The Kericho governor Dr Erick Mutai, Kericho County assembly and Kericho Senator Mr Aaron Cheruiyot on Friday received a report from a task force formed to look into the contentious mechanisation of tea plucking and land under multinational tea companies in Kericho County.
While receiving the report, governor Mutai appreciated the efforts of the task force under the chairmanship of Retired Captain Richard Too saying that his desire has always been that the people of Kericho benefit from the resources that are available in the County.
“From today’s conversation, because we have seen the report from the taskforce that went round every sub county and met members of the public and different stakeholders, what has come out is the thorny issue of mechanisation and the report has proposed a 60 / 40 percent where 60 percent is mechanisation and 40 percent is hand labour in the tea companies,” Dr Mutai said after receiving the report at the tea research foundation in Kericho.
Dr Mutai said the matter of land rates which is ongoing in the courts between the county and the Kenya Tea Growers association (KTGA) should be resolved outside the court instead of using the taxpayer’s money to fight in court, arguing that they can always find ways of resolving their conflicts amicably.
The Governor said that the taskforce came up with a suggestion that a national polytechnic be built within the multinational tea company’s land as part of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
Dr Mutai said that the taskforce has also recommended that the land under the multinational tea be resurveyed noting that the tea estates had over 5000 acres which is not declared or accounted for in the tea estates.
He said that they are asking for the land to be resurveyed for the purpose of rates and not to chase away anyone.
He said that they are looking forward to a healthy relation between them and the investors in Kericho
Dr Mutai observed that the only thing they will not allow any investor in Kericho to do is make 200 percent profit while the people are suffering. He added that they want to have a win-win situation in every engagement.
The governor also touched on the recently reported sex for work scandal in the multinational tea estates. He said that he was happy that police were investigating the matter and they had asked the complainants to report and register their issues so that prosecution could take place.
He added that the concerned companies positively took up the matter and sent home the alleged culprits. He hoped that the women in the tea companies would have a safe place to work in and that the tea produced from Kericho would not be negatively affected by the scandal.
Speaking at the forum Senator Aaron Cheruiyot said that they wanted to increase the land rates for land under the multinational tea companies but the companies went to court thus delaying the process.
Cheruiyot said they have all agreed to go to the ministry of lands to look for land leases that they had signed with tea companies having failed to trace copies in the Kericho lands office.
He added that the Tallai community will be resettled in the Samburet land in Kericho since its their historical land.
The Kericho County assembly was represented by the majority leader Mr Philip Rono of Kamasian ward.
By Dominic Cheres and Moraa Sindy