Residents call for fresh negotiations in Del Monte land row

Monday, July 13th, 2020 19:30 |
US ambassador to Kenya Kyle McCarter (centre) with Murang’a Senator Irungu Kang’ata during a food distribution programme to Kihiu Mwiri residents in Gatanga. Photo/PD/WANGARI NJUGUNA

Intrigues behind ownership of land owned by the Del Monte fruit processing company took a new twist after the Kandara Residents Association called for fresh negotiations to determine whether to renew its lease or not.

Association chairman Phillip Kamau said they want a second round of dialogue between the National Lands Commission (NLC), Del Monte, Kiambu and Murang’a county governments.

On Saturday, Kamau confronted the US Ambassador to Kenya Kyle McCarter seeking to present a copy of a memorandum by the members who have accused the US government of interfering on the matter.

The envoy was in Gatanga to distribute food to the needy to residents of Kihiu-mwiri area. The officials were however stopped by area MP Nduati Ngugi from presenting a document.

McCarter left in a huff as commotion ensured leaving behind some officials who received the document later.

 In his address, McCarter urged the Kenyan government to consider extending the lease for the company saying it has impacted positively on the country’s economy as well as livelihoods of thousands of people.

McCarter said the lease renewal issue should be discussed in a transparent manner by stakeholders and an amicable solution found warning against politicising of the debate.

Addressing the media later, Kamau said the association has picked Murang’a Senator Irungu Kang’ata to arbitrate for them in the dispute where the members are demanding piece of the land.

“The first round of negotiations over this matter, date back to 2018. They flopped because the county governments of Kiambu and Murang’a refused to participate,” Kamau said.

He said they have been pushing to get part of the land under the company’s use, which they claim was grabbed from their parents by the white settlers.

He said despite a series of court cases, they feel like they are being denied what is rightfully theirs and thus the need for fresh negotiations.

“We want Kang’ata to lead the process and help us get what we have been pursuing for decades,” he said.

Kamau said the National Assembly Lands Committee had directed that resurveying of the land the company is sitting on and that the excess land be given back to the community.

“The resurveying of the land has never been done and we don’t understand why it is taking too long” he said. He accused Thika Town MP Patrick Wainaina of meddling in the process claiming he is pushing for his own interests.

Wainaina last week urged the President Uhuru Kenyatta to intervene and have Del Monte’s lease renewed, saying the firm may close down should the National Lands Commission (NLC) fail to act.

The MP said thousands of jobs were at risk and the country would also lose Sh10 billion revenue generated by the company.

He also opposed the proposal to have the company cede part of its land to both Kiambu and Murang’a counties.

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