TO BE SURRENDERED

Del Monte grabbed 7,400 acres, says lobby

Land was transferred by a white settler in 1972 to the government and has not changed ownership since

In Summary

• Association says it hired a private surveyor who unearthed extra land company has not declared

• Land was transferred by a white settler in 1972 to the government and has not changed ownership since

Kandara Residents Association chairman Phillip Njuguna with one of the members
FIGHT FOR JUSTICE: Kandara Residents Association chairman Phillip Njuguna with one of the members
Image: ALICE WAITHERA

A Murang'a residents’ lobby that has been tussling with fruits processor Del Monte now accuses the multinational company of grabbing public land.

Kandara Residents Association claims the company is in possession of five parcels of land amounting to 7,400 acres that belong to the government. 

The residents hired a private surveyor who unearthed parcels they say the company has not declared as its property.

“When we went to court last year, the company only declared 22,000 acres of land that it cultivates without disclosing to the court the extra parcels,” association chairman Philip Njuguna said on Tuesday.

A search in the Ministry of Lands indicated the parcels in question were transferred from a white settler to the government in 1972 and have not changed ownership since.

The lobby has been battling Del Monte in court seeking to compel it to cede 6,000 acres of land they say was taken forcefully from their forefathers.

They filed a suit in the Murang’a Environment and Lands Court in a bid to stop the National Land Commission from renewing its lease until public participation is conducted.

The land, they said, would be used to establish communal projects like hospitals, a cemetery and other social amenities the area lacks.

Justice Grace Kemei gave them time to negotiate with the company, Kiambu and Murang’a county governments with the NLC as the mediator.

But on October 4, 2018 they told Justice Kemei they were ready for an out-of-court settlement and withdrew the petition.

 

The meetings, however, failed to bear fruit after some of the parties failed to attend.

In March this year, NLC published a gazette notice ordering a resurvey of the company’s land by the Director of Survey in partnership with Kiambu and Murang’a county governments.

The resurvey was to establish whether there was any variance between the land occupied by the company and the land leased to it.

“Any residue should be surrendered to the claimants for resettlement and the county governments for public purpose in the ratio of 70:30 respectively,” the notice said.

The notice directed that should no residue be found, a suitable amount of land be set aside and held in trust by the county governments for the purposes of resettlement and public utilities.

NLC  also ordered the company to surrender all public utilities within its land to the relevant national and county government agencies whether the leases have expired or not.

The company is facing another case filed by two Murang’a residents James Mwangi and Ephantus Githae who want the land lease renewal halted until public bidding is done.

(Edited by O. Owino)