The Murang’a County government and the National Lands Commission have been given seven days to submit their responses to an application seeking conservatory orders to block the renewal of a leasehold for soft drinks firm Del Monte.
The petitioners, Ephantus Githae and James Mwangi, moved to court seeking orders blocking the renewal of the Thika-based company's leasehold and, instead, compel the county government and the National Land Commission to place local and international bids for new investors.
Environment and Lands Court (ELC) Judge Grace Kemei directed the parties to return to court on December 3 for further directions on the application.
The judge directed NLC and Murang’a county government to file replying affidavits on the application made by the petitioners in seven days.
The petitioners want the respondents, upon expiry of the leasehold of the multi-national fruit processing company, to place international and local bids with an aim of attracting new investors who would first have to explain how Murang’a residents stood to benefit from the investment.
Through lawyer Omondi Samuel Ogutu, the petitioners want the court to hear and determine the suit urgently so that the law could be upheld when leasing the land to suitable interested parties.
They said they were apprehensive that the county government and the NLC would proceed to effect the extension of the leases to Del Monte in the absence of any public bidding.
Thika Environment and Lands Court Lady Justice Lucy Gacheru, while certifying the matter as urgent, referred the matter to her colleague in Murang’a for further directions on November 21.
The petitioners filed their application at Thika since Grace Kemei of Murang’a Environment and Lands court was not present.
The embattled firm is fighting another suit filed by Kandara Residents Association, in which the association is demanding 6,000 acres of land which members claim was grabbed from their forefathers by white settlers.
An attempt at mediation flopped last week after Del Monte lawyers failed to show up at the National Lands Commission where dialogue was to take place.
This is on top of the case in Nairobi where the fruit company has been sued by the Murang’a County government demanding the company to cede 3,000 acres for construction of an industrial city at Kabati.