Friends and staff of Kibos sugar company demonstrate outside Kisumu County Governor Anyang’ Nyongo’s office (Photo: Denish Ochieng/ Standard) Cane farmers stormed National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) offices in Kisumu temporarily disrupting services over the closure of the Kibos Sugar Factory.
The farmers and factory employees claimed the recent closure of the factory by the environment authority was instigated by business rivalry.The environmental authority had on Friday last week made an impromptu visit to the factory and shut it down over reports that it was emitting waste into the environment.On Monday, the farmers and the workers demanded the lifting of the closure order, saying it had put several lives at stake.
Carrying placards, twigs and chanting anti-NEMA songs, they marched along Oginga Odinga Street, to Jomo Kenyatta Avenue before settling at the former Nyanza Provincial Headquarters which hosts County Governor, County Commissioner and County NEMA offices where they dropped petitions demanding for reopening of the factory.They claimed the closure of the factory was a blow to the livelihoods of at least 3 000-factory employees and over 10, 000 farmers who supply the factory with the cane.“Apart from these, there are several businesses such as transport, food, rental houses, suppliers and mama mbogas who also depend on the factory. Something must be done to save these people,” said Zedekiah Odhiambo, the chairman of Kisumu Sugar belt Cooperative Union.
Kibos Sugar Factory has been on NEMA radar for the last two years about pollution of the environment.Residents of Kibos area have held demonstrations before, demanding the closure of the factory, a situation which has made NEMA, County Department of Environment, Parliamentary Committees of Environment and Education as well as the Ministry of Environment make visits to the factory.
Last year, Kibos Sugar management threatened to fold their operations in the country and move to another country within the East African Region in what they termed as interference by the system in government, forcing Kisumu Governor Professor Anyang’ Nyongó to intervene.Richard Korir, the County NEMA Environmental Inspector who received the petition said he would pass it to the right people who can consider the requests.“The closure order comes from the headquarters and I cannot address the matter. What I can do is escalate this to the right people who can respond on the requests in the petition,” said Korir.