The Central Organisation of Trade Unions, COTU (K) wishes to applaud the relevant government agencies involved in the seizure of over Kshs. 344 million worth of Sugar and Ethanol in Mombasa that was illegally imported into the country and particularly commend the efforts by the Kenya Revenue Authority Commission General John Njiraini and CID Director Ndegwa Muhoro working alongside other government agencies.
The chronic problem of illegal Sugar imports into this country must be dealt with seriously if Kenya is to achieve any meaningful progress in reviving the country’s struggling Sugar Industry, growing this Economy and creating employment for the hundreds of our youths now hit by an unprecedented high unemployment rate.
Already, a total of 60,000 jobs were lost in the Sugar Industry during the last quarter of 2015 according to COTU(K)’s Economic and Research Department and the trend is likely to worsen this year as cartels in the Sugar Industry go full throat to now package this illegally imported sugar into Mumias Sugar Company branded packets hence fetching huge profits as if it is our locally made sugar from Mumias Sugar Company.
Today, our local supermarkets are fully stashed with Mumias Sugar Company branded sugar yet the Sugar Company is on the verge of collapse for lack of local market for the product! This begs the question where does the sugar that every Kenyan household consumes come from?
Apparently, all these Sugar barons are well known to the government and it hypocritical for any government agency to claim that it is investigating those involved yet these very individuals behind such huge illegal imports will be having joint breakfast around the city with them at a time the Sugar Industry is in its last collapse mode and even if the government claims not to know these individuals, as workers we have a list of principal suspects and we are ready to share this list with relevant agencies in confidence.
It is painful that an Industry that was so robust a few years ago can now not even afford to pay its employees’ wages and has been reduced into begging to remain a float. We can’t spur economic growth when the backbone of our economy, that is the Agricultural Sector cannot sustain jobs for our young people and the few available jobs are lost in hundreds by single illegal imports as it is happening now and no single individual is arraigned in Court for such grave injustice against the Kenyan people and to our Economy.
COTU(K) demands to see arrests made against those involved in these illegal imports and a departure from the usual chorus that Kenyans have always been treated to of “we are making leads in our Investigations” only for the whole matter to go to a lull and the next time we hear of it is another seizure of same product!.
Francis Atwoli, EBS, MBS