Mumias revival stalls one more time, investor quits

Monday, June 7th, 2021 00:00 | By
Mumias Sugar staff want Sarrai Group out
Mumias Sugar revival. Photo/Courtesy

Dennis Lumiti

Efforts to revive Mumias Sugar Company have hit a stillbirth following the withdrawal of a potential investor.

The move, though appearing temporal, was already having massive political undertones from several leaders in the Western region, among them Amani National Congress (ANC) Party Leader Musalia Mudavadi, his Ford-Kenya counterpart Moses Wetangula and Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malalah.

The trio has found themselves in uncharted political storm with residents from the Mumias sugar belt blaming them over the woes facing the miller.

Last week witnessed a series of demonstrations by sugarcane farmers and activists, who blamed them for working in cahoots with “our enemies” to completely derail efforts to resuscitate the once East and Central Africa’s largest sugar producer.

MP attacked by residents

Malalah found himself in trouble on Saturday when irate residents of Mumias East Constituency attacked him at a funeral ceremony. 

He was saved by his bodyguards and area MP Benjamin Washiali. His efforts to address the mourners fell on deaf ears and was forced to leave in a huff and under tight security.

Malalah has variously been accused of being an alien and working for the interests of “his community and another local investor” also of the Asian extraction.

The claims have heightened after news spread that the new investor, Narendra Raval, had now shifted his interest to Miwani Sugar Mills in Luo-Nyanza.

“Senator Malalah has now achieved his objective by ensuring that the new investor shifts his focus to Miwani, where his roots are,” claimed a resident in a social media post.

It is yet to be seen how Mudavadi and Wetangula will circumvent the current situation. Their critics claim the duo always want any investments slated for the Luhya Nation to be established in their respective counties.

This informs the reason why Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya has been opposed to the duo’s leadership claiming it is meant to sideline Kakamega and Busia counties in favour of Vihiga and Bungoma.

Raval has denied claims that any politician had sought kickbacks from him but said he wanted the bidding process to be conducted in the public before he could change his mind.

The move came on the day Mumias Sugar Company receiver manager Ponangipali Venkata Romana Rao said he had settled on Raval’s Devki Group of Companies due to its capacity to revive the miller at Sh 5billion. 

He did not however disclose the other bidders raising eyebrows.

“The receiver requested for bids for the revival of the company and received eight bids.

Many of them did not pass the test evaluation which was based on the technical and financial capabilities of the investor,” Rao said in a statement issued on Friday.

Called to rescind decision

A cross-section of leaders from the county yesterday beseeched the investor to rescind his decision to pull out of the deal.

Former Butere MP Amukowa Anangwe said those opposing the take over of the firm saddened him.

“Let me state at the outset that I am still one of the large-scale cane farmers in Matungu, Mumias West, Mumias East and Butere,” said Anangwe, also a former Cabinet Minister.

He added, “Therefore the sad state of MSC is personal and emotive. I strongly believe that the company can be revived and operated as a viable business entity, subject to some critical parameters.”

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