Systematic Stripping Of Western Kenya’s Assets Should Be A Cause To Worry

By Steve Biko Wafula / October 5, 2019 | 6:36 am




Norman Schwarzkopf once said…’ Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without the strategy…’ unfortunately for Western Kenya, our leadership is without both.

For the longest time, I have been afraid to speak my mind because the leadership of Western is petty and vindictive and is afraid of young, visionary youth who can stand up and challenge them. However, they say that silence in the times of war and social conflict equals complicity.

In the recent past, there has been a deliberate effort by the government of the day to strip Western Kenya of her key assets in key economic ventures in manufacturing and agriculture at the behest of silence from our leaders.

Post-independence, Western Kenya was a thriving hub in manufacturing and agriculture. We fed the country without any problem. I went to school on the proceeds of Sugar cane. Now, Western Kenya is a shadow of herself and getting worse by the day as our leaders take vulture stands on her assets at the behest of their greed and self-interest.

Mumias Sugar has just been placed under receivership by a bank it owes billions to and no single leader from the region has said anything. From Tangatanga to Kieleweke. I see the DP Ruto in the region almost every weekend and nothing tangible that can help and support the economy of the region is ever discussed and implemented.

It’s like the loyalty of the Western Tangatanga Leaders to the DP Ruto is purely based on monetary value and not ideology and any philosophy that the DP adheres to. This is what I would call a double tragedy.

First Kitinda dairies went down, then Panpaper was sold for a song, a company though had issues and debt was valued at 18B was sold for a song worth 800M and its been stripped bare of its key machines that have been relocated to another firm and now the once iconic and vibrant firm is a godown for sugar and other imported commodities.

Many will dispute this but I have paid a visit there myself. In all these issues, the key asset is always the land. Now Mumias is under receivership and the silence around it overwhelming. What happens to the farmers, to the employees, to the SMEs that depend on it?

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Webuye is still trying to rise from the ashes of post-Pan Paper existence and it’s not easy. Now Nzoia is on the chopping board and the focus is its asset, which is the nucleus farm with its authentic water spring.

It’s up for privatization and if you ask any farmer if they are aware of this and if they are positioning themselves to take advantage of this, they will tell you they have no idea what I am talking about. This is disheartening because the brand will be taken over by politicians, not even from the region and our farmers, youth and SMEs that depend on it will be left with nothing and the region will keep losing key assets. I don’t see this happening in the Rift Valley or Central Kenya or Nairobi so why Western Kenya only? Have our leaders failed us on this? Who is to blame?

Why the systemic stripping of the region of her assets that belong to her people? Have we failed that we have no leaders that can put the interests of the western people first? That we have no professionals who can manage these assets better without stealing and greed? My heart cries out for Western Kenya. One of the most beautiful and resourced regions yet among the poorest in the country. Why is this so? I am learning not to point fingers but to have sober conversations that can bring solutions.

Mumias Sugar
The entrance of Mumias Sugar Company which is now under receivership

The story of Mumias Sugar, Busia Sugar, Nzoia Sugar, and Pan Paper should be a wakeup call for the people of Western Kenya. It should be a wakeup call for the voters. All the leaders should know that the future, which is tomorrow will judge and hold them very harshly for what they have done or failed to do today.



About Steve Biko Wafula

Steve Biko is the CEO OF Soko Directory and the founder of Hidalgo Group of Companies. Steve is currently developing his career in law, finance, entrepreneurship and digital consultancy; and has been implementing consultancy assignments for client organizations comprising of trainings besides capacity building in entrepreneurial matters.He can be reached on: +254 20 510 1124 or Email: [email protected]

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