Sugarcane cultivators associated with the Nzoia sugar factory in Bungoma County are urging for the resolution of a substantial debt amounting to Ksh.380 million owed to them by the milling company.
Additionally, the factory is reported to have accumulated outstanding salary arrears totaling Ksh.1.1 billion for a period of 19 months, affecting its workforce.
During a visit by President William Ruto, who is undertaking a four-day tour of western Kenya, the farmers and laborers of the struggling factory made an appeal on Sunday for the Head of State to step in and facilitate the recovery of the owed funds.
President Ruto’s itinerary includes a visit to the Nzoia factory, where he is expected to tour the premises.
Jack Munialo, a farmer, conveyed the sentiments of the farmers, stating, “When he comes to our Nzoia factory, we humbly request that the money owed to farmers – the revenue from my sugarcane and that of other farmers – totaling 380 million, be a topic of discussion before we address other matters.”
Christopher Sifuna, the chairman of Nzoia growers, highlighted the fact that they have gone a full year without receiving their dues and expressed optimism that the president’s intervention would lead to a resolution. “We haven’t received our payments since March last year up to today. When he visits, we expect our longstanding problems to be resolved. We are suffering immensely; we lack payslips. We want him to hear us out,” he stated.
Bernard Wanyonyi, who heads the Kenya Union of Sugar and Allied Workers, added his perspective, saying, “The salary arrears amount to over 1 billion Kenyan shillings. This pertains to approximately four thousand employees, encompassing permanent, temporary, and casual workers who have been adversely affected. There is a considerable workforce that is currently experiencing challenges, and there is no proper employee department to address their issues. The employees are demanding ten months’ worth of wages.”
“We are hopeful that when the President visits, our challenges will find resolution. Our children can resume their education, and even when you look at the plight of the workers and the mental distress they are facing, not knowing where their next meal will come from, we are optimistic that our children will be able to attend school,” he emphasized.