President William Ruto has once again vowed to go after barons who he accused of crippling operations at state-owned sugar factories across the country.
Speaking in Uriri in Migori county during his development tour of the Luo Nyanza region, the Head of State expressed his frustration that many farmers are yet to be paid years later despite delivering cane to the mills.
According to Ruto, the sugar barons are responsible for mismanagement of funds at the sugar mills; which has led to the companies accumulating a debt of Ksh117 billion.
The Head of State questioned why farmers are yet to be paid until now yet past administrations have spent billions to offset debts and pay farmers.
File: A truck loaded with sugar cane makes its way into an open yard at Mumias Sugar Factory
The Head of State vowed that the government will clamp down on the sugar barons despite the numerous cases challenging the government’s reforms in court.
Ruto intimated that it doesn’t make sense for the sugar barons to walk scot-free, yet they have crippled sugar companies and deprived farmers of their right.
“They have been taking us to court because they are used to stealing from us. We cannot continue keeping public money in a hole. Give me a chance to deal with these culprits.
“I must be hard on these people. These people, mambo yao ni matatu. The business of taking government money to pay farmers cannot be done any more,” he stated.
On the other hand, he revealed that the government is seeking to partner with the private sector to revive the sugar companies.
Even so, President Ruto maintained that the state-owned sugar companies will not be privatised.
Ruto reassured farmers that their concerns would be prioritised in the leasing program, ensuring prompt payment for cane deliveries.
“After paying the debt we are going to advertise so that we have a leasing programme. There is nothing like privatisation. We will talk about how to have new equipment and make the factories better,” he added.
A photo of the entrance gate to Mumias Sugar Company.