Blame faulty machines for woes: Sugar millers

Wednesday November 29 2017

A packet of sugar produced by Nzoia Sugar

A packet of sugar produced by Nzoia Sugar Company. In the past month, Nzoia and Chemelil sugar companies have sought Sh800 million to address the wear and tear in their plants. PHOTO | MARTIN MUKANGU | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By ANGELA OKETCH
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By VICTOR RABALLA
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Wornout machine parts have largely contributed to declining levels of sugar production by public millers in the country.

This emerged as the millers sought bailouts from the government to fund comprehensive factory maintenance in order to crush sugarcane to capacity and stay afloat.

In the past month, Nzoia and Chemelil sugar companies have sought Sh800 million to address the wear and tear of the multi-million-shilling plants.

As a stop-gap measure, Nzoia has shut for two weeks for minor repairs to restore efficiency and enhance production.

MAINTAINANCE

The refurbishment, which kicked off Wednesday, will focus on masonry works in the boiler walls, change of mill rollers and installation of key pumps.

“At the appropriate time, the company will announce the calendar of its annual maintenance,” said Nzoia Sugar Company acting managing director Michael Kulundu.

“We remain hopeful that the government will soon disburse the Sh300 million for the factory’s annual maintenance.”

For maximum efficiency, the plant ought to undergo minor repairs weekly and major ones annually, he said.

Early this month, Chemelil Sugar Company asked for Sh500 million for factory overhaul.

The poor state of the machine, coupled with factors such as cane shortage and poaching, forced the miller to shut down for six months.

STAY AFLOAT

Chemelil MD Gabriel Nyangweso said the company’s cane crushing capacity has largely been hit by faulty equipment and lack of funds to finance renovations.

“We partially resumed operations on September 22 and only crush 2,500 tonnes a day against the expected 3,000 tonnes,” said Mr Nyangweso.

Sony Sugar Company has also scheduled a two-month rehabilitation to restore its milling capacity and stay afloat.

Acting MD Bernard Otieno said the maintenance, due in December and January, will cost Sh600 million.

“That includes installation of new equipment and replacement of wornout machine parts,” Mr Otieno told the Nation on the phone.

He estimated the rehabilitation to cost Sh350 to Sh400 million and installation of new equipment at Sh200 million.

“We intend to fix components such as boilers, plate works, rotating parts, cabling, bearing and replacement of electrical parts, among others,” said Mr Otieno.


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