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State processing draft law to curb weighbridge fraud

Thursday, February 29th, 2024 06:00 | By
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi. PHOTO/Print
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi. PHOTO/Print

The Ministry of Agriculture is in the process of making regulations to provide for the management of weighbridges to ensure fairness in sugarcane weighing, Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi has said.

This even as he disclosed that several sugar companies have set up cane buying centres where cane is aggregated before being transported to the sugar mills and denied allegations of weighbridge fraud in the Sugar Belt Region.

Appearing before the Senate plenary yesterday, the Agriculture boss, directed the Agriculture Food Authority (AFA) to investigate allegations of cane theft amidst rising concern over weighbridge fraud.

“I am not aware of the existence of syndicates engaged in theft of cane at the weighing bridges and buying centres. The accuracy of weighbridges is the responsibility of the Weights and Measurement department,” said Linturi.

Linturi was responding to queries raised by Kisumu Senator Tom Ojienda on syndicates engaged in the theft of cane at weighbridges while in transit to sugar factories.

Instead, Linturi revealed plans by his Ministry to draft regulations aimed at streamlining sugarcane weighbridges and protecting farmers from exploitation.

“The Cabinet Secretary is in the process of making regulations to provide management of weighing bridges to ensure fairness in weighing bridges,” Linturi told lawmakers on Wednesday.

The situation has caused an outcry from farmers, who claim millers are defrauding them.

Reports indicate that sugar cane farmers are losing millions for cane sold to millers for crushing, with local millers now operating far below established milling capacity as sugar cane farmers, millers experience income challenges.

In putting to task the Agriculture boss, Ojienda urged the Upper Hill based Kilimo House to compensate sugarcane farmers and hold persons involved accountable.

Rogue millers

Linturi’s Senate appearance came amid concern over rogue millers accused of deploying faulty weighbridges to deny farmers their dues.

The Cabinet Secretary said Farmers and transporters deliver cane to the cane buying centres where it is weighed in their presence.

The cane is then offloaded before being loaded into bigger lorries that ferry it to the factories at the millers’ expense.

“I am not aware of the existence of syndicates engaged in theft of cane at the weighbridges and buying centres, the accuracy of weighbridges is the responsibility of the Weights and Measures Department,” said Linturi.

Ojienda had sought confirmation on the presence of syndicates engaged in the theft of cane at weighbridges while in transit to sugar factories and the impact of such activities on sugarcane.

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