President William Ruto, on Sunday, warned private millers that he would not relent in regulating the sugar industry to revive government-owned companies.
While speaking during the interdenominational thanksgiving and prayer service at Uwanja Ndege Grounds in Bungoma County, the visibly agitated Head of State vowed that he would not sit back and watch a few people exploit Kenyans economically.
He specifically singled out Rai (Jaswant Rai) of the Rai Group who has been in the spotlight recently after he was abducted by unknown people on Saturday, August 26.
His family filed a missing persons report at Kilimani Station on the same day. Rai Group controls more than 40 per cent of the country’s sugar production and market supplies.
“Msikuwe na wasiwasi niko hapo chonjo kabisa. Nitahakikisha hii kitu inakaa chonjo. Na wakora wote wako katikati. Msikuwe na wasiwasi ati kuna mtu atakuja kutuongelesha kingereza. Sijui mhindi fulani. Sijui nani ni nani. Sijui mwingine ananiambia Rai. Rai Nani? Hapana hiyo haiwezekani.”
His remarks can be loosely translated to say;
“Do not be worried, I am alert to make sure everything will be okay. There is no one who will meddle,” the President assured residents of reviving the sugar industry.
“Do not be worried about someone coming to talk to us. Someone was telling me Rai. Who is Rai? No, that is not possible,” Ruto stated.
The President wondered why privately owned sugar companies were generating more profit than their public competitors despite the government pumping a lot of money into the latter.
According to the President’s vision, the sugar industry will be revived through public-private partnerships.
He explained that his government would deviate from solely running the public sugar mills in the region as the strategy had failed in the past.
“We want a formula that will bring government and private sector together so that Nzoia company can be sustainable and help locals and the government,” he explained.
“We cannot run business as government. We have tried that before, and it has failed. We pump in millions, and it sinks. How can private mills be functioning profitably when government-owned is riddled with debt? It’s a management issue,” the head of state explained.
He further assured that the government is committed to resolving the sugar crisis in the region, emphasising his determination to take decisive action.
“I want to promise you this is the government that will sort out this sugar problem in this region because we have made a decision to do it,” he vowed.
The Rai Brothers
Jaswant Singh Rai, Chairman of the Rai Group and Sarbi Singh Rai, who runs the Sarrai Group, which is domiciled in Uganda, are brothers. The latter, however, has interests in Kenya.
In Kenya, Jaswant Singh’s Rai manages West Kenya Sugar/Kabras Millers in Malava, Kakamega, Sukari Industries of Ndhiwa in Homabay, Olepito Sugar at Tangakona in Busia and Naitiri Sugar in Bungoma county.
Recently, he was in the spotlight for battling for control of Mumias Sugar with his brother Sarbi Singh Rai.
Jaswant Singh Rai was reported missing on Saturday after he was allegedly kidnapped at Kilimani, Nairobi.
Speaking to Kenyans.co.ke, Kilimani OCPD Moss Ndiwa explained that the Directorate of Criminal Investigations was handling the case.
“Rai’s daughter filed a missing person report and the file was forwarded to DCI. Investigations are underway,” he updated on the details of the missing billionaire.
A photo collage of Jaswant Singh Rai (left) and his alleged abduction at Kilimani captured on CCTV footage.
Kabras Sugar/Boniface Mwangi