Fire razes 600 hectares of Kinyara sugar canes

Monday February 17 2014

By Francis Mugerwa & George Muzoora

Kinyara Sugar works is counting losses after the sugar firm losing hundreds of hectares of sugar canes.
The company’s public relations manager Mr Jude Mubuuke said the company has lost over 600 hectares canes which were gutted by fire over the weekend.

“On Friday, we lost about 200 hectares and on Sunday, we lost over 420 hectares of sugar canes” Mubuuke told Daily Monitor on Monday. The company was hesitant to reveal the monetary losses it had incurred as a result of the fire.
However Mr Mubuuke said the company processes about 100 tons of sugar from each hectare.
“We have lost approximately 62,000 tons of sugar” he said.
Sources within the company said the sugar firm crashes about 4,000 tons of sugar daily. The company said it is suspected that the fire could have resulted from farmers who were burning charcoal in forests neighbouring the sugar estate while other preliminary investigations point to a possibility of the fires being from bush burning.

“We are yet to ascertain the exact causes of the fire but in the meantime, we are sensitizing communities against setting unnecessary fires” Mubuuke said.

Since December,2013 to date ,the district technocrats, politicians and security officials have been sensitizing residents to refrain from burning the canes, a vice which has for years been common during the dry seasons.
Insiders in the sugar factory confided in this newspaper that the fire outbreaks caught authorities by surprise.
The factory workers used fire fighting equipment and were joined by police to extinguish the fire.

However given the dry season that had dried most leaves, factory workers were reportedly overwhelmed by the fast spreading fire.
“We lost over 200 hectares in less than four hours” Mubuuke said. Police officials were by press time investigating the matter.
Kinyara sugar works Limited is one of Uganda’s largest manufacturer of Sugar, producing an estimated 110,000 metric tons annually.

The factory started operating in the late 1960s, in masindi district. During the political and economic turmoil in Uganda in the 1970s and 1980s, Kinyara was adversely affected and production of sugar ceased. In the 1990s KSWL was rehabilitated by Booker Tate limited with aid/loan agreements for various funders underwritten by the Ugandan government.

The factory is currently operated by Rai Holdings Group,a Mauritius based firm which purchased 51% shareholding in Kinyara Sugar Works Limited.
Previous agreements call for the sale of the remaining 30% shareholding to the following entities: 10% to the Omukama of Bunyoro,10% to the KSWL out growers and 10% to the KSWL employees.