RISK LOSING JOBS

Del Monte workers want Wa Iria to renew firm's lease

In Summary

• The workers fear losing their jobs if the firm's lease is not be renewed.

• The Murang'a government wants the company to cede 3,000 acres near the Nairobi-Nyeri highway.

Del Monte workers who spoke to journalists at the firm on Friday
LAND: Del Monte workers who spoke to journalists at the firm on Friday
Image: /John Kamau

Workers at the multinational fruit processor Del Monte Kenya Ltd have urged the Murang’a government to renew the firm's lease.

The workers told Governor Mwangi wa Iria that thousands of them are Murang’a residents. They said they will lose their jobs should the county government insist on pushing the company to cede part of its land.

The county government wants the company to hive off 3,000 acres of its land situated near the Nairobi-Nyeri Highway where wa Iria is planning to establish a modern city.

The workers who spoke to journalists at the company on Friday claimed that some 6,500 workers who are directly employed by the company risk losing their jobs if the lease is not renewed.

They also indicated that another 25,000 who eke out their livelihoods from the company’s wide supply chain will also be affected.

“We are pleading with our governor to reconsider his decision in asking for part of the company’s land because our work will be greatly affected and thousands of residents who depend on the company will be rendered jobless,” Peter Ng’ang’a said.

Ng’ang’a said that Del Monte has significantly contributed to the county’s economic growth as well as assisting locals with education, sports and health facilities.

“The company has brought a lot to Murang’a and the neighbouring Kiambu county. The county leadership should consider this and take a softer stance in their pursuit for a section of the company’s land,” he said.

“The country is currently facing jobs crises with most companies firing or retrenching their workers due to the hard economic times currently facing the country. It’s our prayers that wa Iria will soften his stance and allow the renewal of the land lease,”

In August last year, Delmonte managing director Stergios Gkaliamoutsas said the company cannot cede the land near the highway because that is where its entire water and irrigation infrastructure is located, which he said would be detrimental to the firms operations.

 

In March last year, the National land Commission directed the Director of Survey to resurvey the company’s parcels in partnership with the Kiambu and Murang'a governments. The move was meant to establish whether there was any variance between the land occupied by the company and the land leased.

The commission directed any residue land be surrendered to Kandara Residents' Association, which had filed a petition to block the renewal of the company’s leasehold. Residents would share it with the county governments in the ratio of 70:30.

The company was also ordered to surrender all public utilities on its land to the relevant national and county government agencies irrespective of whether the leases had expired.

Gkaliamoutsas in response to the NLC orders said that the company is ready to have its land resurveyed.