SONY SUGAR FARMERS-By Basil Okoth

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Cane farmers in Migori have shelved their pay demands and set up a Pay Bill to resuscitate crippled Sony Sugar. 
The farmers who held a meeting at the factory ground today said they were saddened by the government’s failure to revive the miller despite numerous promises and said they had initiated the process of contributing funds to bail the company. 
Speaking to LTN during the meeting, the farmers called on President Kenyatta to expeditiously act on the sugar taskforce report and bail the company which is in the verge of collapse. 
Peter Okoth Odongo, farmer urged president Uhuru Kenyatta to act on the report in good time to salvage the situation. 
Another farmer George Nyauchi noted that the new Mpesa playbill they are yet to avail with the support of well wishers will assist in soliciting for maintenance funds. 
He farmers faulted the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) of failing to factor in the woes bedeviling the sugarcane sector in their proposal. 
Mary Otieno and Jane Godi said they cannot take their children to school despite government’s pressure of 100% transition to high school. 
Argwings Odongo, the Awendo branch secretary general asked the importance of BBI to cane farmers if it does not capture their plight as they will not support the initiative unless their issues are tackled. 
Currently, Sony Sugar requires at least Ksh. 500 million to effectively maintain its machines which have not been serviced for the last five years, the management has said. 
The company whose future appears bleak has been riddled by a myraid of challenges ranging from frequent breakdowns of it’s crusher,unpaid dues to staffs and farmers and the recent closure of its bank accounts at cooperative bank. 
The factory acting managing Director Stephen Ligawa blamed the woes bedeviling the firm on low production occasioned by lack of maintenance. 
Mr. Ligawa warned that the plant risked collapsing if drastic measures of partial or full maintenance was not done to enable the factory process more tonnes of cane. 
Currently, the cost of cane production at the factory remains the highest compared to rival private companies operating in neighbouring counties. 
Sony that runs on a still mill produces a mere 200 tonnes from 3000 tones that it used to produce in its heydays, other private millers run an electric mill. 
The MD however asserts that when the company machine is fully maintained it processes 100 tons of cane with expected output of more than 10 tons of sugar. 
Mr Ligawa revealed that the company desperately needs close to Sh 346 million to do thorough maintenance of the plant for its smooth continuity. 
He said the company had written to the County Government of Migori requesting Shs 210 million loan for its half machine maintenance but they are yet to receive feedback.