West Kenya Sugar Company Limited, a leading sugar processing firm based in Kenya’s Kakamega County, has denied involvement in a sugar distribution racket relating to the importation and selling of counterfeit products.
The company, which produces popular local sweeteners such as Kabras Premium White Sugar and Kabras Brown Sugar, had recently been implicated in a scam where contraband sugar containing traces of copper and mercury was sold to the public. Government authorities uncovered the scandal in Nairobi’s Eastleigh area earlier this June.
“West Kenya Sugar Company Limited would like to issue this statement to set the record straight following a series of inaccurate, misleading and defamatory statements…about the Company’s involvement in the importation of sugar,” Company Managing Director, Tejveer S. Rai said on June 19th, 2018.
He noted that as a market leader, West Kenya Sugar Company Limited is often a target of counterfeiters and unscrupulous traders and packers who import and pass off contraband products in the sugar miller’s name.
“We therefore enthusiastically commend the ongoing efforts by the various Government Agencies that are working to clamp down on these illegal traders and we support all genuine efforts to ensure that the culprits of such acts are brought to book,” the MD said.
“We have voluntarily provided unfettered access to government inspectors to all our facilities including our Kakamega factory and storage sites in Nairobi, Nakuru and Webuye,” Rai explained.
“Samples of sugar that we imported are currently undergoing testing and we have no doubt that the results will confirm the integrity of our products and serve to counter the inaccurate, unsupported and alarming reports that are being circulated in the media,” he continued.
Rai noted that the company had invested heavily in an ultra-modern, sugar processing plant located in Kakamega County.
Over 60,000 small-scale sugar cane farmers are contracted by West Kenya Sugar Company Ltd to supply the factory with local sugar cane. The Company has invested over Ksh400 million (about $4 million) in the last 18 months in cane development.
An extended drought experienced in Kenya between 2016 and 2017, which was declared a national disaster caused a rise in retail sugar prices.
As a result, the Kenya Government granted a four-month duty exemption for sugar imports up to 31st August 2017. In view of the exceptionally reduced supply of cane available from our preferred local farmers caused by that drought, West Kenya Sugar Company Limited along with several other companies, consequently applied for and were granted a licence to import bulk brown sugar by the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA).
“The bulk brown sugar that we imported is placed in quality-controlled, white woven bags which have an inner water-resistant liner. The bags are marked ‘NOT FOR SALE’’ as that sugar requires further processing to our exacting standards before it is released to the consumer market,” Rai exlained.
“As we imported bulk brown sugar, it was a condition by the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KeBS) that the same should be further processed at the factory in Kakamega. The final product is then tested in our laboratories to ensure that it meets the KeBS table sugar quality standards and our own Kabras Sugar brand quality standards. West Kenya Sugar Company Limited operates an advanced quality testing laboratory to ensure the integrity of all our genuine products,” he elaborated.
Rai has insisted that West Kenya Sugar Company Limited was not the proprietor of the sugar reportedly seized by government authorities earlier this month.
He added that the company will provide any assistance requested by authorities in relation to their on-going investigations.
“Consequently, we wish to assure all our farmers, customers and stakeholders that the quality of our brand, Kabras Sugar, which is available at all leading outlets in the country, meets and indeed surpasses all the requisite quality standards. West Kenya Sugar Company Limited remains committed to operating within the highest possible ethical standards in the manufacture of quality table ready branded sugar,” he concluded.