The government has begun paying Ksh300 million owed to Nzoia Sugar Factory farmers, President William Ruto has said.
He said the Ksh1.7 billion approved by MPs will significantly support the revival plans for the ailing sugar sector in the country.
President Ruto said all Nzoia farmers will receive their money in the next two days.
Speaking at the Nzoia Sugar Factory Grounds in Bungoma County on Thursday, the Head of State emphasised that reforms were being undertaken to breathe life into the struggling public sugar factories across the country.
“I want to assure you that a situation where farmers deliver their cane to the factory and are not paid will not happen again. A situation where workers not paid their salaries will not happen again,” said President Ruto.
He said the management, which will take over at the Nzoia must, among other, be ready to pay farmers and workers on time besides paying the county government of Bungoma between KSh300 million and Ksh 500 million a year.
“I shall meet with your leaders and agree on the correct formula because most privatised companies can pay their farmers and workers. This means the main problem at these public factories is poor management and not sugar cane farming,” said President Ruto.
The Head of State, at the same time, assured the residents that there were no plans to sell or privatise Nzoia Sugar Factory.
“I want assure you that we will have a new management that will pay farmers and workers their dues and salaries on time,” said President Ruto.
He said the government will allocate KSh500 million each to Nzoia, Chemilil, Sony and Muhoroni sugar factories to increase production.
“We will increase funds to the four sugarcane factories to enable farmers produce more so that Kenya stops importing sugar into the country,” he said.
President Ruto also announced that Bungoma will benefit from KSh1.2 billion to connect 25,000 residents to electricity.
He was accompanied by Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, Speaker of National Assembly Moses Wetangula, National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichung’wa, Health Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakhumicha, Bungoma Governor Ken Lusaka, MPs and MCAs.
Gachagua called on leaders to work together and provide solutions to challenges instead of creating more problems.
“Problems at Nzoia are internal and leaders should work together to resolve them,” he said.
Wetangula called for teamwork and unity in solving problems facing sugarcane farmers, and asked leaders to stop dividing the people out of malice and ignorance.
He praised President Ruto for his tireless efforts to revive public sugar factories in the country.
Earlier, President Ruto said every Kenyan deserves adequate and decent shelter.
“Through the Affordable Housing Programme, thousands of our youth can earn a livelihood. Already, 130,000 young people are working in various projects across the country,” said President Ruto.
He made the remarks when he laid the foundation stone for the construction of the 3,000-unit Kanduyi Affordable Housing Project in Bungoma County.
The President also launched the construction of Naitiri fresh produce market in Tongaren that will serve more than 2,000 traders, including Mama Mboga.
The facility will also provide linkages with the local economy as part of the government’s revitalisation of the markets programme.