Dashed hopes as Webuye Paper Mills remain shut

President Uhuru Kenyatta and other top government official at the facility

During a 3-day visit to Kenya last year, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni raised the issue of Webuye paper mills saying it used to sell the paper to Kampala at affordable rates

By The Weekly Vision Online

After so much fanfare, a Ksh. 1 billion pay-off and acquisition by the Rai group of companies, and an official re-launch by President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2017, Webuye Paper Mills remains a paper tiger of the jubilee legacy.  

Residents in the border Webuye town whose life virtually revolved around the factory are a disappointed lot. Bitter residents accuse the jubilee government of having used the paper mill’s revival as a “political gimmick” to win the 2017 elections saying the factory that employed hundreds and exported paper to neighbouring countries is yet to resume full production.

During a 3-day visit to Kenya last year, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni raised the issue of Webuye paper mills saying it used to sell the paper to Kampala at affordable rates.

Businesses in the once-thriving Webuye town is struggling to stay afloat

In a speech after touring the SGR flagship, Museveni wondered what had happened to the paper factory in Webuye which used to sell the paper in bulk to Uganda saying now Kampala is forced to import expensive paper from Europe.

President Uhuru Kenyatta who was keenly listening kept nodding and was overheard saying the factory will “re-open soon” with the Ugandan leader conceding the country was spending a fortune which should be remaining in the East African region in the spirit of regional co-operation.

Investigations by The Weekly Vision established that the Webuye firm was paralysed by bureaucratic bottlenecks after the trade and commerce CS Betty Maina said the factory was yet to get “log certification” before resuming production.

Life in Webuye had started to get back to normal as the factory roared to life in early 2017 but strangely went quiet in 2019 laying off hundreds and causing businesses to close down.

With the election coming up in 2022, many residents are wondering what aspirants will tell them, having failed to revive such a key project with a guaranteed local and international market. Many have blamed “politically correct” paper importers for the woes the factory is facing.

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