Del Monte Kenya Ltd told to release idle land to public

Monday, September 30th, 2019 00:00 |
Delmonte Kenya Limited. Photo/Courtesy

A Member of Parliament wants juice processor Del Monte Kenya Ltd to relinquish hundreds of acres of idle land to the public.

Kiambu Town MP Jude Njomo has urged the government to investigate claims the company was occupying idle public land in Murang’a and Kiambu counties.

He said the firm was not qualified to renew its lease, arguing that a foreign firm is not entitled to pre-emptive right of extension of leases.

Njomo, in a petition tabled before the House last week, alleged that the multinational company was occupying  more land than the allocated acreage.

“Together with Kakuzi, they have occupied at least half of Murang’a county and have disadvantaged  the residents since local people were unlawfully evicted by the colonialist decades ago. This is against the Constitution and the National Land Commission Act,”  he said.

National Assembly Leader of Majority Aden Duale, while supporting the petition, said it was sad that the firm continued to sit on the land as squatters languish in poverty.

Parcels of land

Njomo wants lawmakers to issue a statement on the actual size of land occupied by the company, if there is any unused land, status of neighbouring parcels of land that were surrendered to the government in 1973, and if there are measures put in place to recover the land occupied “illegally”.

This comes even as the High Court last week threw out a land lease renewal suit filed by Del Monte, claiming it had no jurisdiction to hear the dispute.

In response, the firm disputed the ruling by justices Kanyi Kimondo, Chacha Mwita and Wilfrida Okwany, saying they should have made the above argument clear during the preliminary stages of the case.

“The court’s pronouncements that... the issues should be handled by the Environment and Land Court will only further delay a process that Del Monte has attempted to resolve amicably with the County Government of Muranga since 2012,” said DelMonte managing director Stergios Gkaliamoutsas.

More on National