The quest to revive the financially crippled Mumias Sugar Company has taken a new twist after workers on Wednesday petitioned President Uhuru Kenyatta to allocate money to revive the firm.
Hundreds of employees marched from the factory premises in Shibale to the deputy county commissioner’s office in Mumias Sub-County where they presented their petition to President Kenyatta through the official.
Transport was paralysed on the busy Bungoma-Mumias highway as the workers, who claimed to have gone for 17 months without salary, walked in a slow pace, carrying sugarcane leaves and placards towards Mumias Town.
Some of the placards read, “reconnect electricity to the factory; arrest illegal sugar branders; and protect the MSC against auctioneers”.
The workers who were joined by boda boda operators and farmers appealed to President Kenyatta to release at least Sh6 billion to salvage Mumias from collapse.
They also asked the Head of State to control influx of contraband sugar, which is threatening the market for the locally produced commodity.
“Contraband sugar has flooded the market with some illegally branded in Mumias Sugar packets. We demand for immediate investigation into this fraudulent scheme so that those involved are arrested and prosecuted,” read part of their memorandum.
They reminded the President that major industries in western region were initiated by his father, the founding President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta and that it would be unfair for the factories to collapse during his reign.
Mumias, which has thrived in sugar production over the years to become the regional leading sugar miller, last produced the sweetener in February and the milling plant has been switched off as cane shortage continues to bite the western region amid poaching outcry.
The firm owes its employees Sh700 with a similar amount owed to farmers who delivered their crop to the factory.
The Kenya Union of Sugar Plantation and Allied Workers Union Mumias branch secretary-general Boniface Omulomi said the employees were not getting essential services after Kenya Power disconnected power.
“Workers together with their families are leading a devastating life. Life has become unbearable and some families have broken, children have dropped out of school and most of the employees have loans they can’t service,” Mr Omulomi said.
He further noted that water supply had also been disconnected from the company staff quarter, and there was no garbage collection services.