Murang’a Governor Mwangi wa Iria has instructed the county government lawyers to block the impending sale of a building belonging to a local giant coffee cooperative society.
The Governor moved to stop the sale of the Sh. 300 million building belonging to Murang’a Farmers Union located at central business district in Thika town.
Wa Iria explained that his move was prompted by the reason given by officials of the union that they were seeking money to settle debts accrued by farmers.
On Friday the governor in an interview with the press in Murang’a town said the debts in the coffee sector were waived by the government and added the reasons given to dispose of the building were unconvincing.
“I have instructed county government lawyers to block the sale of the building as I read mischief among officials of the union. All properties belonging to coffee farmers should be protected,” said Wa Iria.
The governor added that the union’s decision to dispose of the building to pay off farmers’ debts was questionable since the government had waived Sh1.5 billion in coffee debts.
“In 2011 the government gave out money to settle debts owed by coffee farmers. I think this sector is marred by cartels who have subjected farmers to suffering for years,” added Wa Iria.
Delegates of the union met two months ago in a special general meeting, chaired by Mr. Francis Ngone and approved the sale of the building after deliberating on the best way to raise money to pay off their creditors.
“The county government opted to block the deal because the society was among 27 coffee co-operative societies that had been granted Sh4.8 billion through the national debt waiver programme to offset what they owed,” Noted the governor.
Wa Iria said he will follow up on how the money given by the government was utilised demanding a list of creditors whose debts were settled.
During his first term, the governor sanctioned an audit of the ailing coffee societies in the county to establish reasons behind poor performance of the coffee sector.
Many coffee farmers in the county have abandoned the cash crop venturing into other crops which have lucrative returns.
In 2014, the county government also established an ambitious programme of giving farmers coffee seedlings of varieties which are more productive and mature within a short period.
The coffee sector has also been marred by numerous thefts of coffee from factories with Murang’a county reporting more than five cases of coffee theft since beginning of this year.
By Bernard Munyao