The US government is offering a Sh3 billion teaching and referral hospital for Murang’a County as it raises the stakes in ongoing talks for renewal of a land lease for American Thika-based food processor Del Monte.
Murang’a Senator Irungu Kang’ata said the hospital will be built on land that the company has agreed to cede in the negotiations that are at an advanced stage.
The company owns 22,000 acres (about 9,000 hectares) and Kandara Residents Association, chaired by Mr Philip Kamau, wants between 5,000 and 8,000 acres (2,023-3,237ha) put to public use.
Murang’a Governor Mwangi Wa Iria says he wants an honest, transparent and mutually beneficial deal to resolve the stalemate, adding that “no single interest should override others in the process.”
Mr Kamau Wednesday said his association has entered into a Sh130 billion partnership agreement with Fourways and Tatu City Investment to build an industrial park, low-cost housing units and a light industries zone on the ceded land.
Further, he said that there will be set aside at least 3, 000 acres (1,214ha) to resettle the landless in the county, with a formula to identify them yet to be established.
Mr Kamau said there will be a social hall, a church and a mosque as well as a primary and a secondary school.
“We’re seeking a meeting with the President to brief him on the partnership and have the county government’s blessings as we commence engagements,” he said.
American ambassador to Kenya Kyle McCarter has petitioned Nairobi, through the Ministry of Land, seeking a speedy conclusion of the issue in line with the Free Trade Agreement pact that the two countries have signed and which awaits parliamentary ratification.
Lands Principal Secretary Chris Muraguri revealed that President Kenyatta has ordered him to ensure the issue is resolved by the end of this month.
“I’m in a rush to meet the President’s directive that I lead an exercise of surveying and demarcating the Del Monte land with a view of determining the authenticity of the public claim placed therein and after arbitrating and reconciling the differences, we shall proceed to renew the lease,” he said.
Mr Kang’ata told the Nation that the American government has committed itself to build the hospital and also partner with the county in pursuing agricultural projects.
“America and Del Monte have never had any problems with the demands that the locals have been fronting. It’s probably the method of engagement that was faulty. We’re now having very structured meetings and are nearly at the point of breaking the impasse,” he said.
Mr McCarter told the Nation that, “Kenya has remained one of our good bilateral partners and a true friend both in times of bounty and gloom.”
He said that, over and above the lease impasse, which he hoped will be resolved before it lapses in July 2022, America will continue proving to Kenyans the benefits of true friendship.
“Kenyans are a wonderful people and their country has a beautiful heritage… we’re not tying our support and partnerships to the lease issue, rather, we’re only progressing (sic) what good diplomatic relations pertain,” he said.