In what appears to be a case of sabotage, another fire has destroyed the second maize dryer at the National Cereals and Produce Board depot in Eldoret.
The fire on Thursday, January 11, came just a week after the first incident on January 4.
Luckily, the Uasin Gishu county fire fighters put it out before it caused extensive damage at the depot triggering fears that this could either be the work of tenderpreneurs eager to sell new driers – or a case of sabotage.
The National Cereals and Produce Board has now suspended maize drying services for farmers until next week when the machines will have been repaired.
But Depot manager Daniel Kodonyo told a local daily that the fire was likely caused by an electrical fault, as was the case on January 4.
“The machines have been very busy in the last three months so we must consider overuse,” he added.
He downplayed the effect of damage to two dryers saying their operations will not be severely affected. He said they only dry maize with a moisture content of 13 per cent.
The damage comes as farmers queue to deliver their maize. The government waived drying costs for those giving their produce to the depot.
But MPs led by Sila Tiren of Moiben have asked the government to install new dryers because the damaged ones were installed years ago.
“We need to install new dryers as soon as possible so the board can resume normal operations.”
So far, NCPB has bought more than 1.8 million bags of maize worth Sh5.7 billion. The board has paid farmers about Sh3.6 billion meaning it owes them more than Sh2 billion.
President Kenyatta ordered Treasury to avail Sh6 billion but there have been delays that have caused farmers to protest. They want to pay their children’s school fees and prepare for the new planting season.