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County government denies leasing Yala swamp to West Kenya Sugar Company

A West Kenya Sugar Limited trailer full of sugarcane at the Dominion Farms in Yala swamp. Photo by KNA.
Some of the Dominion Farms Limited workers protesting at the company headquarters early this year. They accused the American investor of taking off without paying their dues amounting to over Sh. 350 million. Photo by Philip Onyango/KNA.

Siaya county government has not surrendered the Yala swamp to a private sugar milling company as alleged by a section of the media, the county director of communications, Jerry Ochieng has said.

Ochieng who dismissed the reports that the swamp had been handed over to West Kenya sugar company after an American investor, Calvin Burgess left under mysterious circumstances, said the vast wetland was in the hands of Kenya Commercial Bank, who took over as receiver managers of the Dominion Farms Limited, Burgess’ firm that was undertaking mechanized rice farming.

Speaking to the media in Siaya on Wednesday, the Communication Director said the county government had not entered into a deal with anybody else, except the bank.

“The county government is only aware of the KCB which has sent a receiver manager to manage the firm,” he said, while dismissing claims that the county government had entered into a deal with the Rai family, owners of West Kenya Sugar Company for the takeover of the land previously under Dominion Farms Limited.

The  West Kenya Sugar Company General Manager, Gerald  Okoth  equally dismissed the reports, saying that their interest in the swamp was as a result of an earlier deal with Dominion to buy sugarcane from its farm.

He said the company had paid for some of the cane and it had to harvest and haul it to its factory even after the exit of the American from the scene.

The Dominion  Farms Limited sent all its 350 workers home through a letter dated 10th November, 2017, citing difficult business environment.

The move was criticised by workers and local leaders who accused the investor of taking off without paying his workers over Sh.350 million in salary arrears.

By  Philip  Onyango

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