Court bars Sarrai Group from running Mumias Sugar for 6 weeks

Justice Wilfrida Okwany

Justice Wilfrida Okwany presides over a case seeking to stop the leasing of Mumias Sugar Company to Uganda's Sarrai Group on January 25,2022.  PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NATION MEDIA GROUP


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Dismissing an application to lift the orders stopping Sarrai Group Ltd from beginning to revive the debt-ridden Mumias, Justice Wilfrida Okwany said the case by five shareholders-cum-farmers was urgent “and worthy of the orders to protect the subject matter”

The High Court has extended orders barring a Ugandan company picked to revive the financially crippled Mumias Sugar Company from resuming operations for six weeks.

Dismissing an application to lift the orders stopping Sarrai Group Ltd from beginning to revive the debt-ridden Mumias, Justice Wilfrida Okwany said the case by five shareholders-cum-farmers was urgent “and worthy of the orders to protect the subject matter”.

The extension of the orders rattled the Kakamega County Government prompting Senior Counsel James Orengo to seek disqualification of the judge from the case.

Mr Orengo protested the six-week window given to the five farmers and shareholders to prepare for the trial as too long.

Besides the farmers being given time to respond to evidence by 10 defendants, Justice Okwany allowed West Kenya Sugar Company Ltd, through Senior Counsel Paul Muite and lawyer Martin Gitonga to join the suit.

West Kenya had bid the highest at Shs1.1 trillion ($317.04 million), yet Sarrai Group bid at Shs180 billion ($51.07 million).

“How can you pick a company whose capacity is $51.07 million (Shs180 billion), leaving the one with Shs1.1 trillion ($317.04 million)?” asked Mr Muite.

Mr Muite said West Kenya was to pay all the debts and resume work within 18 months, while Sarrai would take 80 years to restore Mumias.

Mr Muite said the Kenya Commercial Bank manager and the court appointed receiver manager Ramana Rao would be summoned to explain the criteria used to pick Sarrai and leave West Kenya.

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