What you need to know:
- The former directors, who claimed to have High Court orders allowing them to resume work, left hastily after small-scale tea farmers arrived
- Drama erupted when the former managers, led by John Tega, drove into the factory and told workers their motive
A fresh row has erupted between small-scale tea farmers and former Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) directors over attempts to take over management of the Chebut and Kaptumo tea factories.
Tea farmers in Nandi County on Tuesday stopped an attempt by former KTDA directors to take over the Chebut factory in Kapsabet by force in a leadership row pitting them against current directors.
The former directors, who claimed to have High Court orders allowing them to resume work, left hastily after small-scale tea farmers arrived.
Drama erupted when the former managers, led by John Tega, the former chairman of small-scale farmers in Nandi County, drove into the factory and told workers their motive.
Voted out eagerly
Mr Tega had argued that the term of the former team had not expired and that they were voted out of office illegally.
Within minutes, workers sent messages to current directors and local farmers about the developments, swiftly mobilising them to action.
The two factories serve about 18,000 small-scale tea farmers in Nandi County.
When President Uhuru Kenyatta called for tea reforms last year, all KTDA directors were voted out and replaced by new teams, in changes endorsed by members of Parliament.
In Tuesday’s drama, the former directors sensed danger and took off as current directors drove in.
The new directors of the Chebut factory, led by Kenned Tanui, the vice-chairman of small-scale tea farmers in Nandi, arrived and said the former directors were no longer bona fide office holders as they had been kicked out during last year’s elections.
Mr Tanui said that since the new KTDA directors took office, tea prices had increased from Sh17 per kilo to Sh20, while tea farmers were also paid Sh20 per kilo in bonuses compared with Sh9 previously.
Other new KTDA directors from Nandi are Mr Richard Kemboi, Nelson Bitok, Robert Kipkemboi, Alfred Mwei and Noah Choge.
The new team claimed tea farmers are happy with the reforms initiated by Mr Kenyatta and outgoing Agriculture Cabinet Minister Peter Munya.
They urged President William Ruto to ensure that farmers get sufficient fertiliser at the reduced price of Sh3,500 per bag.
The team urged Dr Ruto’s government to resolve the standoff between the new and former directors.
The new directors said their predecessors had not addressed high fertiliser prices when they were in office and had failed to protect the interests of tea farmers.
But the former directors vowed to pursue the matter in court.