The government has been urged to speedily appoint a management board to deal with emerging issues at troubled Nzoia Sugar Company.
Former board chairman, Joash Wamang’oli, has also faulted the government for the slow progress of revamping the company following the disbandment of the board.
Mr Wamangoli however expressed hope that President Uhuru Kenyatta will soon issue a directive for the reinstatement of the board.
“Nzoia Sugar Company will soon be back on its feet since you all know that state has brought on board auditors to establish what has been ailing the company,” Wamang’oli said earlier in the week at Korotomi village, Misikhu ward in Webuye East Sub County.
“It is now clear that my board was doing so much for the good of the factory. Let leaders at the county assembly enact laws that will help cane farmers,” he added.
Wamang’oli made the remarks at the funeral of Mzee Aineah Nambafu Nandasaba, the father of Kephar Nambafu, who is Trans-Nzoia CEC for roads.
The company’s board was disbanded last year in July by Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya to pave way for the lease of the company to strategic partners.
The suspended board comprised Wamang’oli (chairman), Michael Wanjala (managing director), Hillary Chongwony (director), Tom Ipomai (director), Karen Kandie (director), Anne Omodho (director) and Mary Makokha.
Others were Richard Njoba, (director) Zakayo Magara, (director) Stephen Kisaka, (director) Patrick Musumba (director) and Stephen Ikiiki (director).
Following the board’s disbandment, the government called for bids from interested investors to run the company and return it to profitability.
The investor was also expected to clear accrued debts owed to cane farmers and lenders.
Then last month, Mr Munya suspended the company’s Managing Director Michael Wanjala to facilitate investigations into his alleged involvement in financial impropriety at the company, including nonpayment of farmers’ arrears amounting to more than Sh700 million.
Wanjala, who until his suspension had been running the company for a year without the board of directors, was also accused of withholding staff salaries amounting to Sh2billion.
Protesting cane farmers
Employment Court Judge Onesmus Makau stayed the decision by the CS to send Wanjala home pending the hearing and determination of the matter.
Justice Makau certified the matter as urgent and ruled that the stay order will be effective for 21 days.
But while echoing the sentiments of former board chairman, Misikhu Ward MCA Milly Masongo appealed to President Kenyatta to appoint a board of management now that the Managing Director has been suspended.
Ms Masungo said that problems bedeviling the company have been worsened by the absence of a board.
“It’s very important to have a board in place for accountability and sound management. The current situation has greatly jeopardized the livelihoods of the more than six million families that depend on the factory. Until we have a board in place, nothing will salvage this company,” she said.
On June 24, employees of the company and farmers blocked Mr Wanjala from accessing the company premises even though a court had temporally overturned his suspension.
A fortnight ago, operations at the company were disrupted by protesting cane farmers.