NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 27 – The Board of Directors of the cash-strapped Kenya Planters’ Co-operative Union (KPCU) has raised alarm over continued looting and vandalism of the union’s assets worth Sh757 million.
Presenting their case before the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture, the board which claims to have been locked out since KPCU was placed under receivership in October 2009, is helpless in curbing – stealing of the assets.
The directors claim- that – stealing, especially of – milling machines and other electronics has been going on in all the 14 branches country-wide. The most affected branches include- Dandora in Nairobi, Nakuru and Sagana -.
“KPCU machines have been stolen under the – watch of the receiver. Before we left office we had done an audit that showed that everything was well, but by now, most of the things have been stolen, sold and even vandalised,” complained the board’s’ chairman Kimathi Mutuerando.
Mutuerando claims that the worst of all is the selling off the Kisii branch to a local farmers group.
“Vandalism and theft of KPCU assets has been going on for a long time since the directors were banned from accessing the factory,” one of the directors Fred Kirubi said.
The board is now throwing all the blame on the Cooperative Development and Marketing Minister Joseph Nyagah claiming that he has led to the loopholes in the union.
They claim that Nyagah and the Commissioner of Co-operatives’s Fredrick Odhiambo set up an interim board on July 20, 2012 to oversee the affairs of the giant farmers’ union as an attempt to cover up the alleged theft.
“We are aware that the minister is even planning to cover up the looting and oversee the disposal of all KPCU assets,” Kirubi said.
He added that despite the ministry wanting to control the union which is 70 percent owned by the farmers, it has put no effort to control the theft – despite getting reports.
“We are holding the ministry suspect because, Minister Nyagah himself has severally said that we are always running to court to block him from running KPCU in his own way,” said Kirubi
The committee led by Naivasha Member of Parliament John Mututho now wants the group to prepare a special report on the alleged theft and all the complaints and present it before the committee on Monday next week at 2pm.
“After you give us the report, we will then summon the Commissioner of Police Mathew Iteere to come here and give us his side of the story. We would want to know if he is aware of what is going on at KPCU because this is indeed serious,” Mututho said.
Kenya Commercial Bank placed the organization under receivership to recover a Sh644 million debt and appointed Deloitte Consulting Limited as the receiver managers.
The genesis of KPCU’s problems is traced to its dual registration – first as a co-operative under the Societies Act then as a limited liability company under the Companies Act.