The land lease dispute between the giant company Del Monte and the residents of Kiambu County has attracted the eye of President Uhuru Kenyatta who has directed the Ministry of Lands to resolve the issue as soon as possible.
According to the Lands Principal Secretary Nicholas Muraguri, the Head of State has given the Ministry until the end of the Month of July to have the issue resolved after Washington called on Nairobi to intervene.
“All parties will be listened to and the government will conclusively deal with the issue by the end of the month,” said Mr. Muraguri.
According to the PS, the issue of Del Monte land needs to be handled with care because the reputation of the country to the international investors is at risk. He said Del Monte is one of the largest investors in the country and every decision taken needs to be looked at with utmost care.
The directive by President Uhuru Kenyatta comes after a section of locals under the umbrella of the Kandara Residents Association pushed for between 5,000 and 8,000 acres of land to be taken from the company and handed over to the locals to “build an industrial park.”
“We are targeting to build our own industrial hub in the surrendered land given that Thika town which has been built and prospered by Murang’a people was grabbed by Kiambu County,” said Mr. Phillip Kamau, the chair of the group.
On his part, the PS said that President Uhuru Kenyatta has expressed concerns that the Del Monte lease impasse is negating the government’s agenda of turning the country into a top investment destination.
“Del Monte is a strategic private investment partner whose importance touches on both economic and political advantages in that, besides paying taxes, it employs many of our unskilled labor hence easing the government’s pressure of creating jobs,” he said in a statement published by the Nation.
As Kenyans continue to struggle with the danger of the Covid-19 pandemic, Del Monte has been on the forefront in helping the vulnerable cope with the pandemic by helping them with foodstuffs and other care packages.
On July 11, 2020, Del Monte Kenya Limited, contributed foodstuff and facemasks to support 600 families in Murangá County through Senator – Hon. Irungu Kangáta to bolster efforts towards containment of Coronavirus pandemic in the County.
“It’s difficult to contemplate the extent of this pandemic and its impact on people’s livelihoods, particularly those already in vulnerable groups. It’s with these families and communities in mind that we’re strengthening our ongoing support for those who need help during this difficult time” said Stergios Gkaliamoutsas, Del Monte Kenya’s Managing Director.
DMKL’s support to the Murangá County Senator’s efforts is in addition to the Company’s support to the Murangá County Government’s COVID – 19 mitigation efforts, by availing spray equipment and experienced workforce to fumigate public places and markets within Murangá County (7 Sub-Counties).
The company has also donated food (fresh pineapples, canned pineapples, juices, and water) to the police and public health officers operating the roadblocks within Murangá County.
Recently the company launched a 6-bed holding room to be used in the event of employees exhibiting COVID – 19 symptoms before they are referred to Government health facilities in either Murangá County or Thika Sub-County for further treatment.
The facility located a few meters from its factory in Murangá County is part of the company’s additional precautionary measures implemented to maintain a safe, healthy, and secure work environment for its 6,500 employees & their dependents and assist in mitigating the spread of COVID-19 within the communities in which it operates.
The holding facility is being managed by Del Monte Kenya’s Medical Department that has been fully trained on Coronavirus clinical management by the Ministry of Health.