Thursday, May 13, 2021
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Court extends time for filing submissions in a case touching Delmonte’s land

Murang’a county government and National Lands Commission have been given seven days to submit replying submissions on a case filed by two residents seeking for open bidding for renewal of land lease by Delmonte Company Limited.
Counsel Sam Ogutu representing the plaintiffs had filed an application before Lands and Environment Court in Murang’a seeking conservatory orders to stop the process of renewing land lease to Delmonte until the case is heard and determined.
Justice Grace Kemei on Wednesday ordered the respondents to file their replying submissions before December 3 when the case would be heard.
The two plaintiffs Ephantus Githae and James Mwangi had filed the application before the court to get conservatory orders restraining the respondents from proceeding with approval for extension of lease by Delmonte Company until a case filed is heard and determined.
Githae and Mwangi had filed a case requesting the court to compel Murang’a County government and National Lands Commission to conduct open bidding for renewal of the land occupied by the fruits processing company.
In their application, the two said the land lease to Delmonte was expected to expire in 2022 and that its renewal should be done in line with the provisions of the Public Procurement and Disposal Act 2005 where bids were invited to allow interested parties to competitively take part in the process.
They said they were apprehensive that the county government would extend the company’s lease without subjecting it to public bidding which they said would contravene the local residents’ interests.
“Neither the two respondents has made available relevant information about the application for renewal of the lease by the proprietor and the petitioners have reasonable fear that the process may be done in secrecy and without accord to the binding constitutional principles of access to information and public participation in the whole process,” read part of the petition.
The petitioners noted that the land in question was leased to the company in 1973 for a period of 49 years by the defunct Murang’a County Council.
They said their expectations were that there would be no automatic renewal of the lease to Delmonte Limited and the respondents would conduct the renewal process in an open and transparent manner as stipulated by the Constitution.
In their application, the two further stated that their desire to seek for open bidding in renewal of the lease represents the interests of the communities living in the areas surrounding the land.
By Bernard Munyao

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