The multi-million naira Sunti Golden Sugar Estates limited situated in Kudu community, Mokwa local government area of Niger State has shut down its factory three months after it was commissioned by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Sugar Estates, a subsidiary of the Nigeria Flour Mill Limited was built at the cost of N50 billion with a capacity to produce 100, 000 metric tones of sugar annually.
It is also said to have capacity of providing 10,000 direct jobs to Nigerians, including 3,000 small scale out-growers of sugarcane.
The company’s closure is coming barely four months after the fun fare that trailed its commissioning by President Muhammadu Buhari in March 2018.
The information regarding the temporary suspension of production activities by the company was communicated to the staff in letters dated April 21st2018 by its management through the Human Resources Manager, one Faruk U. Mohammed.
In the letters, some of the staff were temporary laid off while others have their appointments terminated.
One of the letters titled “Temporary lay off” reads in part: “We regret to inform you that your service with the company is temporary suspended with effect from April 23, 2018.
“You shall not be entitled to any pay during the period.
“This decision was reached as a result of the current temporary halt in factory operations.
“Be rest assured that you will be given first consideration and not subjected to any formal interview in our next recruitment exercise”.
Although the letter was silent on the tentative reason for suspension of production, sources close to company claimed that it was as a result of the fact that the company has exhausted the raw materials from its sugar cane plantation.
Sunti Sugar had in 2016 cultivated 900 hectares of sugarcane and proposed another 3,000 hectares the following year ahead of its commissioning in 2018.
The entire 900 hectares was submerged following heavy down pour which went on for days late September of 2016.
Sources said the initial output contemplated was not met due to sucrose occasioned by the constant rain which also stunted the growth of sugarcane, adding that the company was quick to exhausts its raw material and therefore has to shut down until around October when another harvest is expected to commence.
Daily Witness learnt that the expatriate staff members have since left, while only few Nigerian engineers were retained to service the machines.