LEASE ROW

Del Monte welcomes decision to have parcels resurveyed

The National Assembly Lands committee has backed the directive given earlier by the National Land Commission.

In Summary

• The committee chaired by Kitui South MP Racheal Nyamai gave the recommendation after being petitioned by Kandara Residents Association.

• The group claims the company possesses public land that was surrendered to the government in the 1970s.

Del Monte Kenya offices in Murang'a.
Del Monte Kenya offices in Murang'a.
Image: Alice Waithera
Fruit juice is packed at a Del Monte Kenya plant in Murang'a.
Fruit juice is packed at a Del Monte Kenya plant in Murang'a.
Image: Alice Waithera

The National Assembly Lands committee wants Kiambu and Murang'a parcels occupied by Del Monte Company resurveyed.

The team, chaired by Rachael Nyamai, has backed the directive given earlier by the National Land Commission. They want the Director of Survey to implement the directive. They have recommended investigations into how the company possessed four parcels amounting to 7,400 acres. They are LR 10862, 10741, 11312, and 11146.

Del Monte welcomed the move to have its land resurveyed, saying it would dispel “malicious claims” that it has encroached on land not included in its title deeds.

“Del Monte Kenya welcomes the committee’s decision ordering the Director of Survey to resurvey the land within the confines of our farm,” MD Stergios Gkaliamoutsas said. 

“We wish to reiterate our readiness to engage relevant stakeholders to reach a reasonable settlement on the land lease issue.”

The MPs’ decision follows a spirited campaign by the Kandara Residents Association, which has opposed the renewal of the company’s leases. The association had claimed that Del Monte illegally acquired the land.

Association chairman Phillip Njuguna had said he was in possession of land search documents that indicated that the land was surrendered to the national government by two companies — Chai and Rappit — in 1972 and have not changed ownership since. He said the group hired a private surveyor.

“When we went to court last year, the company only declared 22,000 acres that it farms, without disclosing to the court the extra parcels,” Njuguna said.

He sought to have the company compelled to explain how it acquired the land and started using it as its property. The association petitioned the National Assembly after withdrawing a court case it had filed at the Environment and Lands Court in Murang’a.

The residents wanted the company to cede 6,000 acres they claimed was taken from their forefathers. They wanted the land used for community projects such as hospitals, cemetery and other social amenities that they lack.

In October last year, they told the court they were ready for an out-of-court settlement and withdrew the suit. Justice Grace Kemei allowed to deliberate on the issue with the company and directed that the NLC be their mediator. The dialogue failed after the parties, which included Murang’a and Kiambu county governments, failed to turn up.

In March this year, the NLC published a Gazette notice ordering a resurvey of the land and directed that any variance between the land leased and the land occupied by the company be surrendered to the group and the county governments on a 70-30 ratio.

Del Monte MD Gkaliamoutsas said they strictly grow crops within the areas demarcated in the deed plans annexed to the title deed it holds. He said the title deeds, which were issued in 1970 and 1973, have been confirmed by the Director of Survey and the company had had no disputes until the renewal issue came up.

Gkaliamoutsas added that their deed plans can be accessed by any member of the public from the Director of Survey’s office. He said the acreage is available on Google maps.

(Edited by F'Orieny)