Mumias Sugar: How Narendra Raval of Devki bungled a top secret process to award him Mumias lease

The Executive Chairman of Devki Group Narendra Raval shot himself in the foot the moment he came out to publicly announce that he was headed to Mumias Sugar Company to revive it.

Mumias having traded at the Nairobi Security Exchange (NSE), the process to recruit an investor to resuscitate the collapsed Sugar factory was to be fair, transparent and accountable.

Thereafter, Mumias Sugar Company’s Receiver Manager PVR Rao, had an obligation of making public an entity that had won the bid for Kenyans including farmers, political leaders and other stakeholders to know.

However, Roa kept the process a top secret for reasons best to him.

The secrecy that shrouded leasing of Mumias Sugar Company prompted some senior political leaders from Western, farmers together with their representatives to raise eyebrows.

Rao while being grilled by senators revealed that eight entities had expressed their interest to revive Mumias.

Mumias Receiver manager Ramana Rao

The eight were Devki, Catalysis Group, Premiere JV, Sarrai Group, Kibos Sugar, Third Gate Capital Management, Godavari Enterprises, and Kruman Associates.

Interestingly, while seven bidders chose to remain silent and allow a due process to follow, Mr Raval from nowhere emerged and started to announce how he had amassed wealth and wanted to direct Sh5billion towards the revival of Mumias Sugar.

It was not clear whether Rao and Raval were testing waters to gauge reactions from Kenyans or they were serious.

Be it as it may, that roadside announcement by Raval did not go down well with representatives of the sugarcane farmers and a section of leaders. Then rains started beating Raval.

When the matter became hot with everybody cursing the Receiver Manager for secretly leasing Mumias Sugar Company to Devki, Mr. Raval decided to withdraw his bid, a move that farmers welcomed with joy.

Withdrawal of Devki, now means only seven entities are in the race. However, Senate’s Standing Committee of Agriculture has directed that the process of leasing out Mumias to start a fresh and everything done transparently.

But again, had Raval remained silent, nobody would have known that him and Rao had committed a lot of irregularities behind the scenes that culminated in secret signing of lease agreement without the knowledge of the other seven bidders.

“The due process was followed and we were shortlisted and agreed in everything but at the time of starting Mumias, politics started,” said Raval.

It is because of Raval’s statement that he had agreed everything with Rao that irked sugarcane farmers, politicians and other stakeholders cast doubt on the recruitment process for Mumias Sugar Company.

Many wondered how Devki, known in Kenya for manufacturing steel and cement won the bid to lease Mumias at the expense of some bidders who are already in the sugar sector and understands pretty well the dynamics in the industry.

Shockingly, despite Raval’s remarks that he had sealed the deal to take over Mumias, Rao came out and said that nobody had already won the tender and the process of searching for one was not yet concluded with.

But why did Rao have to wait until there was a public uproar so that he could come out to set the record straight that no investor had been picked to resuscitate Mumias?

Senator Malala asked,” Do we have an investor as we speak right now?

Rao’s answered,” We have not identified any particular investor to operate the lease at the moment. We have the bids but we do not have an investor who has gotten the lease. We have not concluded with anybody.”

What angered many was that while Raval was all over saying he had won the bid and was saying revive the once giant sugar miller KCB Group and the Receiver Manager PVR Rao remained silent.

Devki has not been in the sugar industry so how he had beat other bidders some who have been in the sugar sector for decades, shocked the entire country.

Meanwhile sugarcane farmers from Mumias have warned Kakamega governor Wycliffe Oparanya against forcing Devki down their throat.

“Just what did Oparanya receive from Devki? Even after Devki withdrew from the race, Oparanya is still pushing that he comes back when the farmers have rejected him (Devki),” John Otieka from Mumias said.

Source: People Daily

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