Sharp differences have emerged between elected Kiambu leaders and the Ferdinand Waititu-led county government over the renewal of the land lease to fruit juice processor Del Monte Kenya Limited.
The leaders have opposed the renewal of the lease for another 99 years, accusing Mr Waititu and Del Monte chief executive Mr Stergios Gkaliamoutsas for ignoring concerns raised by residents.
According to the agreement signed on September 7 last year and seen by the Nation, the county government was to renew the lease for another 99 years while Del Monte was to cede 690 acres of non-arable land to the county for the expansion of Thika town, the construction of industrial parks, an airport, information and agro-technology complexes and for residential use.
One year later, none of these projects has taken off.
Thika Town MP Patrick Wainaina said he had petitioned the National Land Commission last year demanding that the land ceded to Kiambu county be surveyed afresh to establish its real acreage, expressing fears that the acreage could have been grossly understated.
“We are pushing Del Monte Kenya Limited to call a field day to ascertain the area they are not using. I personally wrote to the managing director of Del Monte Kenya Limited last year calling all the stakeholders so that we can survey and ascertain the land they are not using before any demarcation, lease and transfer is done to Kiambu County,” said Mr Wainaina.
Contacted, the Del Monte chief executive confirmed that the company had received the letter from Mr Wainaina and “dispelled rumours” that it was using more land than it had been allocated.
Mr Gkaliamoutsas also denied that he was using his closeness with Mr Waititu to expedite the renewal of the lease.
“The allegations that Del Monte Kenya’s managing director, Stergios Gkaliamoutsas, used close influence with Kiambu’s Governor Ferdinand Waititu to speed up the land renewal process and ignored concerns raised by local leaders are categorically false.
“In all dealings, Mr Gkaliamoutsas and Del Monte Kenya operated in a legally compliant manner and in good faith, taking into consideration the stated concerns of all relevant stakeholders.
The terms agreed to with Kiambu County government leadership, are a matter of public record and readily available at The High Court Registry, The National Lands Commission Registry and The National Assembly Registry,” he stated.”
Under the terms of the agreement signed by the Del Monte CEO and Kiambu county secretary Martin Njogu, it was agreed that the latter should not interfere with arable land and that those areas be maintained and observed by the former.