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OPEN LETTER: Western Kenya based lobby group decries exploitation of sugar farmers by newly formed Busia Sugar

Joseph Barasa, Chairman, Western Development Initiative Association (WEDIA)

In an open letter shared below, Western Development Initiative Association or WEDIA raises critical questions over Busia Sugar’s manipulation of sugarcane farmers.

Western Kenya leaders led by the most visible and powerful, Raila Odinga and Musalia Mudavadi must come to the aid of farmers and not be party to the manipulation.

Protection of local farmers must be high on the agenda of the above leaders.

It is quite unfortunate that what started as a beacon of hope has now turned to be no better than the others.

Such scheming and manipulations as done by the management of Busia Sugar have sounded death-knell on many other sugar factories in the larger Western Kenya region. Farmers die poor while politicians walk to Nairobi smiling all the way to the bank.

This should stop.

OPEN LETTER TO ALI TAIB. MD, BUSIA SUGAR INDUSTRY

The Chief Executive Officer/Managing Director,

The Busia Sugar Industries Company Ltd,

BUSIA COUNTY – KENYA.

August 14, 2021.

Dear Sir,

REF: THE CRITICAL QUESTIONS CONCERNING CANE FARMERS AND YOUR COMPANY’S MANIPULATIONS.

Today I want to put it to you that the above mentioned matter is now degenerating into a thorny issue that I cannot keep silent about but once again address you directly in my own personality who is both directly and indirectly affected.

This is emerging directly because of your own orchestrations and manipulations overtly and covertly executed by you not only at the expense of the affected sugarcane farmers ironically contracted by you to supply your factory the raw material but worse also betrayed by you in pursuit of your insatiable monetary or financial interests.

First and foremost, I want to put it to you that when Western Development Initiative Association (WEDIA) and a section of the wider cane farmers wrote to you a protest letter dated 1st April, 2021 specifying their areas of concern complete with their names and personal Cell Phone numbers, your immediate reaction was to contact and summon them individually to your factory premises with cooked up allegations.

That they were being summoned to answer queries over your cooked up allegations by you that they and others were plotting to burn up your factory without knowing that they were going to be subjected to coercion, threats, intimidation, humiliation…name it by your senior managers and characters you had hired from the Busia Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to execute your manipulative greedy schemes.

I put it to you that after studying their submissions you further humiliated the very same cane farmers some of whom are contracted to your company and some whom are private by giving them a token of between Ksh 1000 and Ksh2000 allegedly for transport back to their homes when their sugarcane worth hundreds of millions of shillings was rotting on their farms because of your cheap dealings with brokers selling you cane bought from them at throwaway prices or smuggled from Uganda at no production nor transport or any other costs to you and your company by brokers.

Sugar cane offloading

Mr. Taib, I must also put it to you that with this immediate background you have continued your nefarious manipulations and fight against me for the role I have played and will continue to fight for the rights and interests of our farmers whose rights you are abusing with blatant impunity.

Today I am telling you these facts because you know very well the passion and the role I have played in this whole business with you right before you even constructed that factory right from the village level all the way to the national government to ensure that BSI factory comes to life and our cane farmers get their rightful dues you are now killing through your and actions and brokers who sell the raw material to you after abandoning the farmers.

Incidentally, if you have forgotten, I must put to you these facts for your gestation because I am not amused and nor lightly take your even more recent brazen actions about this whole business all of which falls on your head and use or misuse of your financial power.

That I remember very well in the year 2013, you called me to your office along Mombasa road where I met you for the first time in my life as the BSI corporate Chief Mogul, without knowing that you had greedy nefarious intentions to manipulate and use me in your schemes.

That during that meeting you told me how the former Prime Minister  Raila Odinga through the former Kenya Sugar Board (KSB) deeply frustrated your efforts to construct a sugar factory in Busia County and that he even attempted to divert the factory to his home Siaya County where you were to be given free land compared to Busia where you were buying for the proposed sugarcane factory construction using the power of your billions of shillings.

2018: Raila Odinga (centre) Busia Gov Sospeter Ojaamong (left) and Busia County Women Representative Florence Mutua

Having been conceived, born, and bred in Busia County I could not take it lightly as you made me believe that the Rt. Hon. Raila had bad intentions for Busia county residents hence I fought him through the Press and any forum that I could find suitable including farmers meetings to thwart those manipulations.

Indeed I was acutely aware of the fact that the county’s residents had fought for a sugar factory for decades without success to the extend of surrendering their precious ancestral lands that still lies empty for that purpose that never came to fruition.

May I also put it to you that after that meeting with you I maintained the fight until I ensured that the plans had been reversed after the former KSB boss Rosemary Mkok called you to her office and reassured you that a decision had been arrived at for you to go ahead to construct your sugar factory in Busia County together with Rai Group’s West Kenya at Olepito.

You should also not forget the fact that in 2018 I was the center person between BSI and Hon.Raila’s office through Hon. Florence Mutua where we had several meetings with the Chief of Staff Andrew Mondoh to discuss plans for Raila Odinga to the launch the factory but instead you intervened to urge me to play that possibility down until the whole thing died a natural death in other words you didn’t want the former PM to launch the operationalization of your factory.

You stated that Hon. Raila didn’t support your factory investment efforts right from the start and that the Deputy President (DP) William Ruto whom you claimed helped you to get an operating License would be offended I invite you to challenge me and prove me wrong. Have you forgotten that it is me you chose to present the Company’s Strategic Plan to the Deputy President when he toured the factory in 2018? So I know what I am talking about.

It, therefore, goes without saying that it pains me that I have made lots of enemies during or over the years I have been fighting for you but it feels good at the same time as I have had the opportunity to learn the sugar sector that I can now boast of having a lot of information about.

Of course, as much as you promised to fund my political campaigns – remember what I told you in your office that: ” I am contesting for Nambale constituency MP seat come 2022 because of BSI but I will not also allow BSI to make me fail the election therefore I choose to stand with the farmers who constitute a huge voting block”…So what am I saying?

West Kenya Sugar chairman Jaswant Singh Rai tried to stop the construction and operations of Busia Sugar

That Mr. Taib you can go ahead and direct your powerful financial support elsewhere. But I am not also convinced that you would have funded my campaigns the reason being that if you were unable to pay me only shs. 100, 000 I asked for from you for creating the BSI Company’s Twitter account @busiasugar and Facebook “Busia Sugar Industry” and managing them for close to two years but instead you only conned me by giving me shs.30, 000 and later swindling it from me what would make me believe you would even give me a million shillings?

At this juncture, let us start it again from here, how much do you pay your employees? Mr. Ali you are just evil and Allah will punish you if you don’t change. I also have information that you have rounded up all the 40 sugarcane farmers contracted whose names and telephone numbers appear on the list attached to the letter which I wrote to you protesting about the exploitation of our farmers by your company through brokers and also abandoning their cane after harvesting to rot and decaying on their farms you are now manipulating them ruthlessly.

The Principal issue being to induce them to denounce the letter and instead accuse me of using their names without their consent. Once again I will tell you to go ahead with your dirty schemes as I am not about to give up anytime soon in my fight for the interests of our farmers and NOT your profits.

I must also tell you that you should also feel ashamed for crafting and executing some baseless propaganda against your own farmers falsely accusing them that they are plotting to burn your valuable factory and you are now using the police who have more serious matters to deal with.

That is other than pandering to your whims and influence for intimidating, humiliating and debasing our poor farmers by asking them to record statements, I tell you – Shame on you once again. That I will NOT keep silent or stand compromised by you or anybody as you continue frustrating, misusing, exploiting, intimidating, subjugating and wasting our sugarcane farmers to fulfill your greed for financial pursuits.

Finally I wish to state to you Mr. Ali Taib note that the same farmers who welcomed you in Busia County are the same farmers who shall force you out of Busia County when the center or backbone fails to hold ever though we are also acutely aware of the fact that you are plotting to sell BSI to Kakamega County’s Butali Sugar Company after making your billions from your sugarcane brokers.

 

God bless you!

Yours Sincerely,

JOSEPH BARASA.

#ThePeoplesDefender.

 


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