Troubled Mumias Sugar Company is expected to kick-start operations on Friday after power supply was reconnected to the factory. This comes 20 months after the company halted activities at its factory.
Ponangipalli Venketa Ramana Rao, the receiver manager appointed by KCB to oversee revival of the miller, said on Wednesday that a team from Kenya Power had visited the factory to inspect transformers before reconnecting its electricity supply.
The development means that the cash-strapped firm can now embark on ethanol production. The miller is currently buying bagasse and molasses from the privately-run Butali Sugar Mills to start production and generate revenue for buying raw material from farmers.
“We are set to start ethanol production by Friday as we are finalising plans to resume milling operations. Everything is so far moving according to plan,” said Mr Rao.
Management officials at the factory were on Wednesday locked in a meeting to review ongoing preparations for ethanol production.
But even with the ray of hope, the next hurdle will be sourcing adequate supply of raw material for milling. This remains a nagging issue for the receiver manager, who says milling operations are to start in the next two months depending on availability of cane.
To this end, Mr Rao said he had put in place plans to ensure farmers are paid after delivering cane to the factory.
The miller’s operations were shut down 20 months ago due to a crippling shortage of raw material and dilapidated machinery.
Last Wednesday, suspected arsonists set fire to a section of cane fields belonging to the miller.
Mumias West Sub-County police commander Peter Katam said unknown people had set the sugarcane on fire but the blaze was put out by firefighting teams and members of the public.
The incident was reported on fields F54 and F56 at the nucleus estate.
Head of Human Resources John Shiundu said the firm has nearly 5,000 tonnes of cane, ranging from 24-27 months old, in the nucleus farms.
The miller had earlier indicated that a deal had been struck with Busia Sugar Company to have the cane harvested to generate revenue to be ploughed back into kick-starting milling operations.
“The decision to sell the cane to Busia Sugar Company was reached to avert losses due to fire incidents by arsonists. Our plan is to have the cane harvested and generate about Sh20 million which will help fund our operations,” said Mr Shiundu.
Last year, the miller reportedly lost 8,040 tonnes of cane worth nearly Sh30 million after suspected arsonists set its cane fields on fire.