- The notice is an amendment of the Gazette Notice dated March 1, 2019.
- In 2019, a High Court barred Bomet and Kericho from implementing some recommendations of the NLC which allowed them to have authority over the lands.
Three Rift Valley counties have scored a major victory in a longstanding land tussle with the multinational tea firms over the management of the farms.
This follows a verdict by the National land commission (NLC) handing the counties of Bomet, Kericho and Nandi more powers over the lands.
In what deals a major blow to the International firms operating in counties, NLC has ordered the renewal of leases for the lands be withheld and that a resurvey be done on the tea farms.
Renewal, the commission said, will only be done after an agreement between the firm and the particular county.
“A resurvey should be done on the land being held by the tea estates to determine if there is any surplus land or residue to be held in trust for the community by the County Government for public purposes,” a Gazzete Notice dated April 6 reads.
The notice is an amendment to the Gazette Notice dated March 1, 2019.
James Finlays, George Williamson, Mau Tea, Sotik Tea Highlands, Ekattera (formerly Unilever), and Sasini are those to be affected.
NLC has also ordered that the leases be aligned to the 2010 Constitution and adjusted to 99 years from its current 999 years.
The decision by the Commission is as a result of a claim lodged by Bomet and Kericho on behalf of Kipsigis and Talai clans, Kipsigis clans and the Borowo and Kipsigis clans’ self-help group versus the British government and the government of Kenya.
That of Nandi was filed by the Talai community.
On the land rates and rent on such land, NLC has recommended that this should be “enhanced” for the benefit of both the county and national governments.
“The county and the multinational sign an MOU for the multinationals to provide public utilities for the community,” it states.
Additionally, the Commission wants the tea firms in Nandi to establish a scholarship fund to educate the Talai children.
The latest decision is a win for three governors-Hillary Barchok, Eric Mutai and Stephen Sang.
In 2019, a High Court barred Bomet and Kericho from implementing some recommendations of the NLC which allowed them to have authority over the lands.
In Gazzete Notice dated March 2019, NLC gave the counties powers to among others approvals and conduct surveys of the lands.
The case was filed by 11 tea companies from the Rift Valley and sought to quash a decision by the commission.
In the application before Justice P. Nyamweya, the Companies argued that the decision by NLC offends the principles of natural justice as the commission neither afforded them a fair opportunity to be heard nor notified them of the claims by the counties.
The applicants pointed out that if the matter was not urgently heard, the NLC recommendations would be carried out and they would lose their properties thereby incurring irreparable loss and damage.
The multinationals said they contribute significantly to the Kenyan economy through international tea exports which is a major foreign exchange earner for the government and “all these contributions would be at risk if the NLC advice was to be implemented.”
Former Kericho governor Paul Chepkwony and his Bomet counterpart late Joyce Laboso commenced the process of repossessing the lands.
They were also pushing for compensation of the Kipsigis and Talai by the British government over the atrocities meted on them by colonialists between 1920 and 1924.
Lawyer Kimutai Bosek claimed the firms own up to 200, 000 acres of land but insists on 89, 000 acres only.
Currently, the firms pay land rates of Sh1,600 per hectare and the counties are recommending up to Sh10,000 per acre.