Residents of Kandara Constituency in Murang'a County who had filed a case against the renewal of pineapple farm Del Monte’s lease have agreed have the case settled out of court.
The case involves the fruit processing company, National Land Commission (NLC) the Attorney-General and the Murang’a County government.
The residents filed the suit in September 2016 at the Murang’a Environment and Lands Court seeking to block NLC and the county governments of Murang’a and Kiambu from renewing the leaseholds until the company cedes 6000 acres which they claimed were grabbed by the white settlers from their forefathers.
Through their chairman Phillip Kamau, the locals claimed that the children of the forefathers who owned the land currently occupied by the fruit processing company live as squatters and require to be settled before the lease is renewed.
They also proposed that 1,000 acres of land to be kept aside for building of green houses, a level five Hospital and a graveyard.
On Wednesday, lawyer Duncan Okatch, who is representing the residents, filed an oral application in court seeking to postpone the hearing of the case in 30 days to allow the plaintiffs and the respondents to have an out-of-court settlement over the suit.
“I urge the court to give the parties involved in this case 30 days for them to engage in out-of-court settlement over the case as we all have agreed,” Mr Okatch told the court.
Lawyers Ng’ang’a Thuo, Charles Wambugu and Josephat Kimwere representing Del Monte NLC, Murang’a County government, and the Attorney-General, also said they had opted for an out-of-court settlement to pave way for discussions between the aggrieved party and the defendants.
“The plaintiffs will be most favoured by the discussions and we have no objection,” said Mr Kimwere.
Judge Grace Kemei directed that the parties report on developments of the discussions on November 12.
Del Monte’s 18,000 acres of land are in Murang’a while 8,000 acres are in Kiambu County.
Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu renewed the company’s lease last year while the lease in Murang’a is expected to expire next year.
Murang’a Governor Mwangi Wa Iria has vowed not to renew the company’s lease for another 99 years unless the company cedes 6,000 acres of land which will pave way for development of a city along the busy Thika-Kabati highway.
“We will not renew the leasehold for Del Monte until we get land which will pave way for construction of a city along Thika-Kenol highway,” the governor told the Nation.