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Stakeholders in limbo as deadline for directive on Del Monte land lapses

By Anthony Mwangi
Friday, August 7th, 2020
Del Monte. Photo/File
In summary

A day before the lapse of the three-week ultimatum by President Uhuru Kenyatta to resolve the land dispute between fruit processor Del Monte, two counties and a lobby group, the ministry of Lands is yet to resurvey the land as directed.

A source at the National Land Commission (NLC) confided in People Daily that the ministry is yet to ask the Director of Surveying to resurvey the land which Del Monte sits on and at the centre of the dispute, between Murang’a and Kiambu counties and the Kandara Residents Association.

“The ministry is yet to talk to us over the matter despite the fact that the commission is the constitutionally mandated body tasked with the role issuing leases,” said the source who cannot be named as he is not authorised to talk to the media.

Issuance of leases is the mandate of the commission and with that of the Del Monte expiring in two years, the law requires the lease be surrendered to the respective county government for consideration.

Last month, President Uhuru directed Lands ministry to intervene and resolve the lease dispute between Murang’a residents and the company that owns 22,000 acres.

The American government through its embassy in Nairobi had asked the President to intervene and help resolve the lease agreement controversy in the spirit of the Free Trade Agreement that the two countries have signed and which now awaits Parliament to ratify.

Lands PS Nicholas Muraguri, was quoted as saying that the President has given the ministry till the end of this month to resolve the issue.

The Kandara Residents Association, which is chaired by Phillip Kamau, is demanding between 5,000 and 8,000 acres excised from the company’s hold and handed back to them.

In a letter written to the NLC chairman, the association adduced evidence showing gross illegality and irregularity of land occupied by Delmonte Kenya Ltd.

“In our view, Delmonte Kenya Ltd can only be allocated land that it has never been leased to.

We have enclose evidence of unused land close to 7,500 acres,” Kamau says in the letter to NLC chair Gershom Otachi.

According to Kamau, a certified copy of a memorandum of Registration of title shows the land was transferred from the company to the Republic of Kenya vide the transfer instrument executed by a Registrar of title dated May 21, 1973.