UHURU PAYS EX PAN PAPER MILL EMPLOYEES SALARY ARREARS AFTER 10 YEARS HOPING TO GET THEIR VOTES.
By Anwar Sadat
In 2009, the roar of the huge turbines at Pan Paper Mills in Webuye went silent.
As the turbine shafts slowed down under the retarding force of higher electricity costs and cheap paper imports, brought into the country by those connected to individuals in government, that evening, 1400 Kenyans who had depended on this factory as the source of their livelihood were condemned to a life of grinding poverty and apathy.
For 5 months, the locals had begged the coalition government to save their company from imminent collapse. They had hopped that to receive favorable news from the Prime Minister, Raila Odinga, whom they had engaged with on the issue.
The Issue was discussed in two cabinet meetings. In the first meeting, the PM directed the Minister of finance, Uhuru Kenyatta, to come up with a plan of how the government would write off the huge electricity bill owed by the company and save the company from imminent collapse.
In his response to the PM, the minister of finance argued that keeping the factory open is an unnecessary burden that the government should not be forced to carry. He proposed and recommended for the second cabinet meeting that the factory be sold to a private investor.
During the second cabinet meetings, the Prime Minister opposing the recommendation of Uhuru Kenyatta to privatize Pan Paper Mills, aggressively pushed that the government forgive the electricity costs owed by the company, as they had done to coffee and tea farmers in central province, so that the over 40,000 residents of Webuye town whose livelihoods depended on the company would not be affected.
The issue was left pending after President Kibaki asked the Finance minister to come with an acceptable solution.
Three days after the second cabinet meeting, Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta presented to President Kibaki his ministry position: The government could not keep Pan Paper operational, it should be sold to a private investor, which the ministry had identified.
And that is how Pan Paper was sold to Rai Group of companies, partly owned President Uhuru’s family.
And so in 2009, Rai Group of companies went to Webuye, sent out Pan Paper employees without paying them their salaries, and closed the gates of the company, rendering them jobless and without means to feed or fend for their families.
Just like he did to the IDPs from Kisii that took him 10 years to compensate for PEV, he has done the same thing to ex Pan Paper employees.
10 years after selling Pan Paper mills to a company partly owned by his family and sending home its employees without pay, President Uhuru Kenyatta, through his government, a few days ago, released kshs 74.5 million to pay the ex Pan Paper employees because he now wants their votes.
He refused to help Pan Paper Mills in 2009 when it was owned by Kenyans, but was quick to pump in Kshs 6 billion after his family bought it.
So today Uhuru is in Webuye to hoodwink the Luyhas how his government is looking after their interest. Dennis Itumbi, tell your boss that his PR won’t work in western.
Any leader who can hold the salary of Kenyans for 10 years or refuse to compensate PEV for 10