Nzoia Sugar Company plans to close down for eight weeks during which time the miller will undergo maintenance.
The firm’s managing director Chrispine Ogutu stated that besides the need to conduct annual maintenance, low production of sugar had also necessitated the call for the closure. He said Sh216 million had been set aside for the exercise.
At the moment the company produces one tonne of sugar from 17 tonnes of sugar cane crushed and the maintenance is expected to increase the grinding efficiency to produce 1 tonne of sugar from just 9-10 tonnes of sugar cane.
He said that for 6 years the company had not done any maintenance which has reduced production overtime, making the company struggle to pay workers and farmers.
Last Year, during Mashujaa day, President Uhuru Kenyatta allocated a sum of Sh1.2 billion to sugar factories in Kenya and Sh500 million was given to Nzoia Sugar Company to offset the farmer’s debts and do maintenance of the equipment.
He said that from the Sh500 million, Sh284 million was paid to farmers while Sh216 million was used to order for spare parts in readiness for maintenance of the factory.
Ogutu noted however that the money was not credited directly to the company’s account but was given to the Department of Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) which is a governmental organization and it took long before the same was released to suppliers for spare parts.
He said that AFA paid suppliers in March and now it is expected that the shipment will be received starting from the 11th of this month.
“We start servicing preparations on the 19th of May then will close down the operations for 8 weeks within which there will be zero production,” said Ogutu adding that the company might resume full operations in mid-July.
He pleaded with farmers to hold on cutting their matured sugarcane for the next two months, assuring them that this process is for their own good as they stand to benefit when the company is in good shape.
Nzoia is one of the key players in Kenya’s sugar industry that has been ailing for a long time and the temporary closure is expected to increase production as compared to recent times.
The company has been without a board for over two years now after Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya revoked the appointment of board members in 2020.