Counties seek to repossess tea farms after leases expire
Land leases for most of the multi-national tea companies have expired and the county governments want the firms handed over to them.
Governors from tea growing counties in Rift Valley have launched the process to repossess multinational tea companies whose leases have expired. The governors from Nandi, Bomet and Kericho counties are demanding compensation from the British government over forceful eviction of the local communities during the colonial era to pave way for the establishment of the multi-national tea companies.Land leases for most of the multi-national tea companies have expired and the county governments want the firms handed over to them.Nandi Governor Stephen Sang and his Kericho counterpart Prof Paul Chepkwony yesterday called for establishment of public company to manage multinational tea companies whose leases have expired for the benefit of the local communities.
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“Apart from the compensation issue, the multi-national tea companies whose leases have been terminated need to be handed over to the county for proper management,” said Mr Sang.Governor Chepkwony has initiated process to sue the British government for atrocities committed against the Kipsigis community including eviction to establish the multi-national tea companies. But in a twist of events Governor Sang held talks with British Deputy High Commissioner Susie Kitchen over the expired land leases for the multinational tea companies.This follows similar discussions with Governor Chepkwony of Kericho County. “It is unfortunate that the displaced families continue to live in deplorable conditions after they were evicted from their ancestral land and subjected to torture by the British colonialists in the process of establishing the multi-national tea companies,” said Mr Sang. READ: Tea multinationals at risk as land leases petition goes to HouseThe County Assembly, he said has launched the process of seeking compensation for the forceful eviction of the Nandi people and torture including the killing of their spiritual leader Koitalel Samoei. The devolved unit has sought services of international lawyers including Kharim Khan who represented Deputy President at The Hague during the ICC case and 10 prominent Kenyan lawyers to pursue the case. The County Assembly has allocated the County Government Sh108million to sue the British government and seek compensation in London Court over the historical land injustices. According to Governor Sang, the devolved unit will not accept blanket apology from the British Government for atrocities committed against its people. But according to Ms Kitchen the British government was committed to solving the dispute without straining relationship between the two countries. “We urge the multi-national tea companies to support the local communities through their Community Social Responsibilities and as a government we will continue offering capacity building to women, youth and people with disabilities,” said Ms Kitchen. She disclosed that British investments in Kenya have created jobs and was ready to collaborate with counties in tea producing region to boost trade and uplift standards of living local.