Court gives Kandara residents 21 days to settle Delmonte land row out of court

The Delmonte offices. The Environment and Lands court has given Delmonte and parties blocking its land renewal lease 21 days to negotiate an out of court settlement. /FILE
The Delmonte offices. The Environment and Lands court has given Delmonte and parties blocking its land renewal lease 21 days to negotiate an out of court settlement. /FILE

The Environment and Lands court in Murang’a county has given Delmonte Company and parties blocking its land renewal lease 21 days to negotiate an out of court settlement.

Justice Grace Kemei made the ruling on Monday after the Kandara residents Association asked for more time for further negotiations.

The association filed the petition in January this year seeking to stop the lease renewal process until public participation is conducted.

They also want the court to compel the company surrender 6,000 acres of land they claimed were violently seized by colonialists from their forefathers and later taken over by Delmonte.

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

However last month, the residents told Justice Kemei that they were ready for an out-of-court settlement in the case.

The court gave the parties including the residents, National Land Commission, the attorney general, and the Murang’a and Kiambu county governments until Monday, November 12, 2018 to negotiate and table a report on the progress of the talks.

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Talks over the land renewal deal that were scheduled to be held at the National Land Commission offices on November 6 failed to kick off after the Delmonte Company officials failed to turn up.

"We are not partisan at all to any of the parties involved in this case and are still committed to mediate the matter," the Commission said through its lawyer Charles Wambugu.

On November 7, two Murang’a residents filed another petition against Delmonte seeking to block the renewal of its lease until a public bidding is conducted.

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The two, James Mwangi and Ephantus Githae said Murang’a County government should be compelled to invite bids to allow interested parties to competitively take part in the process.

"The county government is intent on proceeding with consideration and approval of the company’s application for the renewal of its lease which is in complete disregard of the law," they told the Environment and Land court in Thika.

Justice Kemei gave all the parties involved in the case until December 23 to present a report on the negotiations.