The Luhya Elders Forum is opposed to President Uhuru Kenyatta officially opening Pan Paper Mill in Webuye.
Addressing the press in Bungoma, the elders led by the chairman Burudi Nabwera, the vice Chairman, Peter Ludaava, secretariat member, members Edward Ohare and Andrew Okumu said Pan Paper is a private entity.
“President Uhuru Kenyatta should not be coerced into opening Pan Paper because because it is a private business and the government has nothing to do with opening it unless it has shares in it,” said Nabwera.
The investor, associated with several sugar industries, a plywood firm and an edible oil refinery in the country, is said to have purchased the firm for about KES 900 million, beating five other bidders.
In 2010, then President Mwai Kibaki held a colourful ceremony in Webuye during which he switched on the factory machines to signify revival.
But the factory was shut down shortly after though the government had pumped in KES 400 million for its revival.
Yesterday, the elders said former employees are yet to be paid their dues yet plans are underway to revive the factory which collapsed about 10 years ago.
“We want to see all 1,600 ex employees are paid their accrued dues. They dedicated their lives to the industry and it went under before they were paid, let President Kenyatta make sure that they are paid instead of coming here to play politics because the government has nothing to do with Pan Paper,” said Ludaava.
They said that the government spends a lot of cash in cushioning coffee farmers in Mt Kenya region while giving loans to Western region industries.
“We are not against the president’s visit to the Bungoma, but what we find wrong is for him to give impression that he has come to give us goodies that we haven’t seen,” noted Okumu.