KISUMU, Kenya, Aug 4 – The Kenya Union of Sugar Plantation and Allied Workers Secretary-General Francis Wangara has blamed the government for the cane shortage being experienced in the country.
Wangara says the government has failed to implement various sugar task forces reports which detailed how to revive the sugar industry.
He says such reports, one by former Governor Wycliffe Oparanya during the tenure of former agriculture cabinet secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri are gathering dust in the shelves after consuming huge amounts of tax-payers money.
“The issue of cane shortage is as a result of the government failure to implement the recommendations that were conducted by the various taskforces,” he said.
The Union official said the shortage ought not to have been experienced if the recommendations were put into use.
Speaking to the press in Kisumu on Friday, Wangara said the industry will continue to ail if the government ignores the implementation of the reports.
“Reinventing the wheel is unnecessary, we should look at the reports, have them reviewed and implement where necessary,” he said.
He says contained in the reports is how to set up sugar factories and weighbridges amongst other recommendations.
Wangara says the mushrooming of sugar factories has led to the shortage of cane in the country, noting that there must be measures put and adhered to on how to start a sugar factory.
“The factories are everywhere with no sugarcane nucleus, some expand their milling capacities, so they start scrambling for the raw material leading to shortage of cane,” he said.
The same, he said, applies to setting up of weighbridges, which he blamed the factories for setting up such facilities even in areas not within their jurisdictions.
“The start should be, plant the raw material that is what will necessitate you to set up a weighbridge, you don’t start with a weighbridge,” he said.
He noted that many weighbridges are put in areas where the cane catchment of that area was specifically meant for the millers around that place.
“When the millers ferry cane not within their jurisdiction, which leads to serious shortage of cane in the country,” he said.
Other recommendations in the reports include privatization of public mills to enhance their efficiency, reintroduction of the sugar levy and the enactment of the sugar Act.
Other proposed reforms include the gazettement of the sugar sector regulations, including import rules, amendment of the AFA Act and Crops Act in line with the 2010 Constitution, and a review of the taxation regime in the sector to attract investors.
The task force also proposed strict compliance with the COMESA regulations and outlined a raft of reforms needed to increase the sector’s productivity.