Kenyan Association of Sugar and Allied Products (KASAP) reads mischief in plans by Mumias Sugar Company Receiver Manager to lease the troubled miller.
According to KASAP National Secretary Peter Ondima the bidding process to find a suitable lessee ought to have been advertised and evaluation of all bidders done in an open and transparent manner.
Ondima accuses the Receiver Manager PVR Rao of keeping the process under thick veil until concerns were raised by among others, sugarcane farmers, local politicians and other stakeholders.
“It was very telling that while seven bidders chose to remain silent and allow a due process to follow, Mr Raval from nowhere emerged and started to announce how he had amassed wealth and wanted to direct Kshs. 5billion towards the revival of Mumias Sugar,” said Odima.
Earlier this month, Devki Group chairman Dr Narendra Raval announced the withdrawal from the deal saying it lacked the input of key stakeholders.
Devki Group is among eight firms which had placed bids to lease the ailing millers according to Mr Rao’s revelations before the Senate, other being Catalysis Group, Premiere JV, Sarrai Group, Kibos Sugar, Third Gate Capital Management, Godavari Enterprises, and Kruman Associates.
”We do not know whether Rao and Raval were testing waters to gauge reactions from Kenyans or they were serious but that where anger against Devki started,” added Ondima.
Last week, the Senate’s Standing Committee of Agriculture had directed that the bidding process to find Mumias Sugar lessee start afresh and everything done transparently.
Dr Raval however rebuffed claims that the bidding process was flawed, saying, ““The due process was followed and we were shortlisted and agreed in everything but at the time of starting Mumias, politics started.”
A farmer Boniface Manda said,” had Dr Raval remained silent, nobody would have known that irregularities had been committed behind the scenes that culminated in secret signing of lease agreement without the knowledge of the other seven bidders.”
KASAP wondered how Devki Group, a firm known for manufacturing steel and cement won the bid to lease Mumias Sugar at the expense of some bidders who are already in the sugar milling business.
“Despite Raval’s remarks that he had sealed the deal to take over Mumias, Rao came out and said that nobody had already won the tender and the process of searching for one was not yet concluded with,” said Odima.
Meanwhile sugarcane farmers from Mumias have warned Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya against forcing Devki lease.