Mumias blames Sh14m fire loss for milling delay
Mumias Sugar Company #ticker:MSC now says its problems have been compounded by a Sh14 million loss it suffered after fires razed down 500 hectares of cane in the factory’s nucleus estate. The company which had initially indicated it would resume operations starting last Sunday claims the loss has greatly affected its chances of revival adding that majority of farmers have also uprooted their cane.Acting managing director Isaac Sheunda, speaking on Thursday at the company’s main office in Mumias, said the factory’s machinery had however been put on a trial run this week using some of the burnt cane to ascertain the viability of the factory. “On Tuesday, we conducted the trial run to test whether the factory is in good condition as we prepare to resume operations. We realised that only a few areas need to be repaired but the factory is in very good condition after it produced juice that will be used to process ethanol,” said Mr Sheunda.The factory has stalled since April last year when it was closed for lack of raw material to crush. This week, it was to restart full operations but lack of cane now means only the trial run was done.Last week, the firm’s chairman Kennedy Ngumbau claimed the miller, which lost its electricity connection in August last year over a Sh1.2 billion bill, had collected cane from a few farmers in preparation for milling beginning Sunday.According to Mr Sheunda, however, the firm has been harvesting and selling cane that had matured beyond 25 months to “friendly” millers including Nzoia, Butali and the upcoming Busibwabo. “We didn’t want this cane to rot from the farms and we decided to harvest and sell to our friends in the business so that we can acquire some seed money to keep us in business,” he added.