PRESS RELEASE: DEL MONTE LAND DISPUTE A THREAT TO INVESTORS IN THE COUNTRY
The raging battle pitting fruit juice maker Del Monte Company on one hand and Murang’a and Kiambu Counties on the other hand poses a serious threat to investors in this Country and the National Government should immediately intervene with a view to bringing to end the fierce Court battles that the parties are currently embroiled in and guarantee our investors the much needed confidence.
The Central Organisation of Trade Unions, COTU (K) that enjoys a valid recognition Agreement with the Company through its affiliate Trade Unions, is deeply concerned that the cordial relationship that the company has enjoyed over the years with the neighbouring communities is now under threat following the strained relationship between the Company and the elected leaders from the region and this will impact negatively on the Company’s operations.
Already over 6000 jobs are now at stake and soon these workers may be forced into redundacy and loss of their jobs if the demand by Murang’a County for 3000 – 6000 Acres of land is granted as a condition for renewal of lease.
The two counties are setting a dangerous precedence of conditionalities to renew the lease for a Company that is contributing immensely to the Social-Economic development of the two counties and whereas the closure of such a firm like Del Monte will spell doom to Thika town and its envirouns as it is evident with the now ghost looking Webuye town following the closure of Pan Paper Mills, it is unfortunate that such an internationally recognised firm of Del Monte’s repute that has put Kenya on the Intenrational map could be a subject of intimidation and harrassment from elected leaders who should instead be devising ways to grow the company, create more jobs for the locals hence increase revenue for the two counties.
Equally, allowing local politics to infiltrate into the normal operations of a firm like Del-Monte as perpetuated by loose tongues bent on satisfying certian selfish ends, should not be allowed at the expense of such a huge Investment in the two counties and the reason being fronted by some leaders that two investors are coming to the counties hence require land is llogical and Irrational as you cannot force out an Investor who has toiled so much and contributed Immensely in terms of revenue to the growth of the entire region only for a “new” Investor that is yet even to engage the local people and market.
At the same time it is important for the two counties to note that several businesses were lost out following infrastructure and housing developments in the area including the construction of the Thika Super Highway and now coupled with previous loses of Agricultural oriented firms like the Juja Sisal Spinning Company and the vast coffee farms in Ruiru, unemployment in these two counties has remained high spiling over to neighbouring counties of Machakos and it is only important that the National Government intervenes and protect such huge Investments as Del Monte’s and secure employment for our people other than look at such Investments as irritants in total contravention of the proverbial one bird inhand is worth two in the bush.
Francis Atwoli, EBS, MBS