Leaders in Murang’a are concerned about an influx of commercial sex workers streaming into various shopping centres ahead of bonus payments to tea farmers.
Kangari MCA Charles Kahoro told the Star that a majority of the hotels in his ward are fully booked by the lot. He said some of them are posing as doctors or preachers.
Cases of farmers losing their money to prostitutes who spike their drinks in bars are common whenever the annual bonuses are paid out.
The MCA told farmers to spend the money on their families, especially in the face of the current harsh economic times.
Kahoro said the area has four tea factories namely Nduti, Makomboki, Ikumbi, and Gacharage. Farmers get millions of shillings in bonuses from the firms.
The politician told security officers to be on the lookout for the sex workers adding that “when the money is stolen, families remain impoverished”.
“I’m appealing to officers to flush out these women before we start hearing of theft and food poisoning,” he said.
Landlords and hotel owners have been told to ask for identity cards from suspicious guests and to take photos where possible.
Murang’a Agriculture chief officer Peter Njangi said it is saddening that bonuses have been reduced by Sh10 per kilo.
He told KTDA that the reduction of bonuses is unfair since the cost of production is high. The official urged farmers to use the money prudently.
“Some men leave their families and only return when the money is finished,” he said.
Njangi said the county government has gazetted a notice against tea hawking, which is rampant in Kangema.
“Tea hawking destabilises factories. We are asking farmers not to sell their produce to private factories,” he said.
Murang’a Senator Irungu Kang’ata said it is unfair for coffee factories to pay as low as Sh30 per kilogramme of tea.
He said last year, factories such as Ngere and Makomboki paid up to Sh60 per kilogramme.
He said tea is the second highest foreign exchange earner after remittances from people living in the diaspora.
The senator said farmers should be given incentives to increase their earnings.
Kang’ata said a Senate ad-hoc committee on tea has been going round the country to find out the challenges facing the sector.
“We will give our recommendations that include exemption of some of the taxes to increase farmers’ income,” he said.