More than 10, 000 tons of sugarcane is rotting away at Kibos Sugar and Allied Industries Ltd (KSAIL) following the order by the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) that closed down operations over releasing raw effluent into River Kibos.
The polluted water finally ended up in Lake Victoria and thus escalated the damage caused to the aquatic and other wildlife neighbouring the shared water mass.
In a memorandum on Monday signed by 9 officials led by Zedekiah Odhiambo copied to Kisumu Governor, Prof. Anyang’ Nyong’o and the regional NEMA office, the Kisumu Sugar-Belt Corporative Union (KSBCU) appealed to the government to allow KSAIL to resume operations to crush the 10, 000 tons of sugar.
Odhiambo expressed concern that apart from the sugar rotting in the KSAIL yard, there was urgent need to harvest more than 300, 000 tons of mature cane lying in the field ahead of the anticipated long rains season.
The group who had earlier on conducted peaceful demonstrations along Kisumu streets termed the closure of Kibos Sugar by NEMA as a political move which only hurts farmers and employees of the company more than any other stakeholders and called for the withdrawal of the order.
The infuriated group urged NEMA to work closely with KSAIL to find a long term viable restoration process while the operations were going on to curb unnecessary losses to farmers, employees and the country’s economy.
“Give KSAIL adequate time to comply with the NEMA orders. We hear that the restoration order was received by Kibos Sugar on Friday, March 6, 2020 but was backdated to February 5th 2020,” stated Odhiambo who read the memorandum.
“We read malice and bad intentions by this government agency (NEMA) and fear that they may be used for negative economic aspirations of non- patriotic individuals,” he added.
The memo further warned that failure to meet the demands would leave them with no other options but to mobilize all farmers in the region to carry on with the demonstrations until such a time that the authorities would be ready to listen and act accordingly.
Francis Wangara who is the Secretary General of Kenya Union of Sugarcane Plantation Workers (KUSPW) said the matter has been politicised by creating a wedge between the sugar firm and other stakeholders through non-existent claims of air pollution.
Wangara argued that KSAIL, although is private company, has been in the forefront in transforming the living standards of local farmers by paying them on time for cane delivered and supporting them in cane development.
The demonstrators also visited the county agricultural office to issue them with the memorandum and by the time of going to the press, they were seeking for an audience with the Governor Prof. Nyong’o in a bid to find a lasting solution.
By Fredrick Ajok/Joseph Ouma