Kiambu and Murang’a MPs task director of survey to expedite resurvey of Del Monte’s land
A group of Members of Parliament (MPs) from Kiambu and Murang’a counties now want the Director of Survey to expedite resurveying of Del Monte land whose 99-year lease expires in 2022.
The MPs who were on a tour at the fruit grower and processor regretted that delays by the director of survey to have the land resurveyed could lead to loss of at least 6,000 direct and 28,000 indirect jobs if the company’s land lease is not renewed.
They also regretted that sustained delays to renew the lease that was applied 12 years ago could see the country lose Sh 10 billion in foreign exchange including Sh 7.5 billion on supplier’s backward linkage.
At the same time, the MPs Patrick Wainaina (Thika Town), Joseph Nduati (Gatanga), Simon King’ara (Ruiru), and Jude Njomo (Kiambu) said that delayed renewal of the lease has affected the multi-million company investment decisions and development.
They further regretted that failure by the government to renew the company’s lease could hurt the Free Trade Agreement that Kenya has over the time enjoyed with the American government.
Should the government fail to reach an amicable solution over the raging dispute, the lawmakers further cited that the country’s reputation over how it treats foreign investors could be injured.
Their sentiments come weeks after President Uhuru Kenyatta directed the Ministry of Lands to arbitrate the lease dispute pitting the company, Murang’a and Kiambu county residents.
The protracted land dispute pitting the counties and some residents over thousands of hectares it farms in the former Central Province has dragged for years. The company that enjoys a turnover of over Sh 10 billion yearly owns 22,000 acres of land.
Led by Wainaina, the MPs failed to understand while the Director of Survey has dragged the resurveying process that would determine the acres of land that the company is sitting on despite receiving instructions from parliament and the National Lands Commission months ago.
Should the company be found to be having land it does not use, Wainaina said the parcels would be converted into public use and have industrial parks, schools, cottage industries, low-cost housing and hospitals built to benefit the public.
He urged the government to offer a conducive environment to investors in the country to lure more from overseas.
“The government has continued to look for investors to come and develop our country but it beats logic to do this yet we are sending away investors who have already committed millions of dollars in terms of investment,” he said.
On his side, King’ara said that failure by the government to resolve the dispute could hamper the President’s industrialization agenda alongsideVnegating the government’s agenda of turning the country into a top investment destination.
He said that since the outbreak of Covid-19, the multi-million company has never sacked any of its employees and the country cannot afford to lose it.
“This country cannot afford to lose Del Monte and we cannot continue to put them on the edge. This resurvey must be done soonest and the renewal process be expedited forthwith,” said MP King’ara.
MP Nduati said that most of the workers employed at the company are from his constituency who earn more than Sh 2 billion annually, monies he said have made Thika and parts of Murang’a economically vibrant.
He pointed an accusing finger to the Director of Survey and tasked the President to sack anyone found to have dragged in expediting the company’s lease renewal process.
On his part, MP Njomo said the company is a great asset whose proceeds the country has continually enjoyed.
He said the company employs thousands and has no blemish in its mode of operations and urged the relevant government agencies to intervene and solve the dispute.
“The company management has revealed that it is ready to release all the land it does not use for the public good and we don’t see why this matter should continue dragging,” said Njomo.
The multinational company has been embroiled in a tussle with lobbyists under the patronage of the Kandara Residents Association, Kiambu and Murang’a Counties.
While the association, chaired by Mr Phillip Kamau are demanding between 5,000 and 8,000 acres expunged from the company’s hold and handed back to them, Murang’a County wants the company to surrender 3,000 acres of its land situated near the Nairobi-Nyeri Highway where the Mwangi Wa Iria led government intends to establish a modern city.
The company which exports 4,000 tonnes of pineapple products and other fruits beverages through the Port of Mombasa annually attained the ownership of the plantation in 1968 and has turned the unused land into a thriving plantation.