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Letters

Uhuru, take charge of Del Monte land duel

An aerial view of pineapples at the Del Monte Kenya farm in Kiambu County
An aerial view of pineapples at the Del Monte Kenya farm in Kiambu County. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

I thank President Uhuru Kenyatta for intervening in the land lease renewal dispute between Murang’a County Government, some residents and Del Monte Kenya Limited.

It is my hope the Lands ministry and the National Land Commission (NLC) will now deploy their teams immediately and resurvey the entire 22,500-acre Del Monte farm and determine whether the company is farming on more land than is demarcated in the deed plans annexed to the nine titles they hold.

The title deeds to these lands were issued in 1970 and 1973 respectively.

As a small business owner, who benefits from Del Monte Kenya’s presence in Murang’a, I have watched with consternation as this dispute has been hijacked by politicians and so-called activists for their own selfish interests at the expense of 6,500 Kenyans directly employed at the company and another 28,000 employed indirectly by the company as suppliers.

BACKBONE OF ECONOMY

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Agriculture is the backbone of Kenya’s economy, and for the last 71 years that Del Monte Kenya has existed, it has changed one life after another.

It has supported many generations and everyone I know, including my grandmother, mother, father, and cousins. All have stories to share about this great company.

I have watched our kids go through a free education system courtesy of Del Monte Kenya. I have seen them and our neighbours build careers that have uplifted the statuses of our homes. I have also been able to receive free healthcare from the company’s clinics.

PERFECT HEALTH

My children have all been treated at the same clinics and are in perfect health. My neighbours, many who work at Del Monte Kenya, have catered to their families’ needs courtesy of the salary they earn at the company.

So, when all these politicians and activists started agitating for Del Monte Kenya’s land, immediately it was known that their leases were due for expiry.

I became worried for their future, as these Kenyans who have worked so hard all their lives stand to lose everything they have built.

For many neighbouring the Del Monte Kenya farm, if the renewal of the land leases is not sorted out, we stand to lose our livelihoods and our families will be subsequently affected.

Even more, the local economy will be deeply affected as there will be no cash flow.

Without these jobs, many families in the region will not be able to get by. Where will we go? Will the Murang’a government give all of us jobs and the same services that Del Monte has been offering its employees?

My request is for President Uhuru Kenyatta to oversee this land row and ensure it is resolved amicably.

We cannot afford to become another jobless society, especially during this time when the coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on the national economy.

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