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OWNERSHIP BATTLE

Del Monte loses in land lease suit

Fruit processor had applied to be enjoined in case

In Summary

• 99 years land lease to Del Monte comes to an end in 2022 and its renewal process has commenced.

• Petitioners James Mwangi and Ephantus Githae want to halt process until public bidding is done.

A section of the Del Monte farm in Thika
DISPUTE: A section of the Del Monte farm in Thika
Image: FILE

The Environment and Lands court in Murang’a has dismissed an application by Del Monte to be enjoined in a case seeking to stop renewal of its land lease.

On Friday, Justice Grace Kemei dismissed the application with costs to the fruit processor, saying it did not demonstrate how the suit would interfere with the current land ownership status of the company.

Del Monte had applied to be enjoined in a case where two Murang’a residents are seeking orders to have the county government of Murang’a and the National Land Commission advertise the renewal of the land lease owned by Del Monte under the Public Procurement and Disposal Act.

The 99 years lease to Del Monte comes to an end in 2022 and its renewal process has commenced.

The petition by James Mwangi and Ephantus Githae seeks to halt the process until public bidding is done.

Del Monte in its application argued that it was the registered owner of the land and has invested heavily in it.

The company further argued that the outcome of the petition may disrupt the ongoing land renewal process.

In their submissions, the county and NLC held that Del Monte is not necessary or proper party to the suit.

The county lawyer argued that the interests of Del Monte are private and not of public benefit.

The counsel said the process of renewal of the lease lies with Murang’a county government and the NLC and requested the court to dismiss the application.

The judge ruled that the company did not demonstrate reasonable facts to be enjoined in the case.

“The applicant must prove that its presence is key in resolving the dispute and the final orders cannot be enforced without it,” Kimei said.