The newly appointed acting Pyrethrum Processing Company of Kenya (PPCK), acting Managing Director Joseph Waweru has his work cut out.
The Nakuru-based firm has been running without a substantive managing director and board of directors since 2008.
Lack of proper funding by the government and the absence of the board has affected the revival of the pyrethrum sector.
This is perhaps one of the loopholes the government must seal in its attempts to revive the firm. Lack of board of directors has led to rampant corruption in the firm.
Mr Muigai, a former financial manager at the Agriculture Food Authority, has been appointed in an acting capacity of the cash-strapped State agency.
Mr Muigai’s appointment comes in the wake of the arrest of the embattled former boss of the firm, Mr Paul Lolwerikoi.
Mr Lolwerikoi was arrested in Nakuru Town on September 27 over economic crimes and other procurement irregularities.
Upon his arrival at the company, on October 17, Mr Waweru found that electricity and water had been disconnected.
He is expected to boost the morale of the more than 200 workers. A good working relationship with employees will be key in reviving the
sector that seeks to reclaim the international market share that is less than one per cent.
“Given the low morale of workers due to unpaid salary arrears, the new MD must build a rapport with union functionaries,” said the firm’s employee.
However, Mr George Onyango, a shop steward, assured the new MD of workers’ support.
“As a union we are 100 per cent behind the new MD and I urge all the stakeholders to support him in his efforts to revive the company,” said Mr Onyango.
PPCK has seen a large number of employees aged 50 years and above and will soon retire. There is also a talent scarcity in the middle and senior levels as some employees are not qualified to hold the positions they are occupying at the moment.
“The new MD must address the management gap in skills by engaging qualified workers at senior level for higher productivity,” said Pyrethrum Pension workers’ superannuation scheme spokesperson Harun Tinga.
Pyrethrum Growers Association (PGA) national chairman Justus Mochache Monda said: “The new MD must use the support he has from key stakeholders to revive the industry. The government must put in place a new board of management to oversee the running of the firm,” said.
Mr Muigai’s second challenge will dealing with county governments.
One senior PPCK manager said, “He is in coming at a time when one of the county government flagship project is the revival of pyrethrum sector.”
Farmers who are owed millions of shillings expect new MD to make an impact this financial year by ensuring there are enough planting materials.
The farmers urged Mr Muigai to search for a strategic partner to work with the State agency.
“He must bring in new technology as the current machines at PPCK are outdated and cannot effectively process flowers,” added Mr Tinga.
The vice chairman of Agriculture committee at Nakuru County Assembly Wilson Wachira urged the new MD to revoke all the land leases which were sanctioned by his predecessor saying “they were irregularly sanctioned.” Mr Muigai said he was equal to the task.
“’I’m deeply honoured by the trust placed on me by the government. I will ensure that PPCK remains relevant to achieve stronger and sustainable financial growth.”