Del Monte land lease takes centre stage during Madaraka Day fete

Gladys Chania and Kiambu County Assembly Speaker Stephen Ndichu. [courtesy]

Voices of disgruntled residents voicing their discontentment with Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu’s decline to renew Del Monte’s land lease took centre stage during Madaraka Day celebrations across the county.

Late this week, Waititu said he had met Del Monte’s leadership where he made it clear he will not renew the land lease to allow for the expansion of Thika Town.

“We held a consultative meeting with Del Monte Kenya Limited Managing Director Stergios Gkaliamoutsas where we discussed over county expansion plan that has been influenced by the highest growth rates in our industrial town of Thika.”

“In this regard, my administration has declined to extend land leased to Del Monte for another term,” he said. “We shall use the said land for the expansion of Thika Town which is ranked among the fast growing towns in the country.”

But, as the debate soars, politics played out as Kiambu-based politician Gladys Chania who strongly opposes the move found herself on the firing line.

At the Ndumberi grounds where Waititu together with a host of county leaders including the County Assembly Speaker Stephen Ndichu led the celebrations, Chania came under fire for opposing the county government’s move.

Ndichu hit out at the former County Women representative aspirant asking her to tone down on her opposition to the county government’s plan.

However, Kiambu residents took to social media to condemn his attack on Chania saying she is fighting for a just course which affects thousands of workers working at Del Monte.

In the United State of Kiambu Facebook group with over 200, 000 followers, Kiambu residents trained their guns on the County Assembly Speaker calling him out of order.

“He should limit his engagements to county assembly. It sends a very worrying message. When the executive gets in the same bed with their oversight authority,” Josi Njoroge said.

“This is a person who was an MP for 10 yrs (sic) with no development record to show so am not surprised,” Martin Thuo said.

One Anthony Muchai noted “The crop of leaders both at the assembly and executive arm of the county government behave in a manner to suggest their competency is below par. So the clueless Speaker had no agenda than discussing a lady? Big shame to our county.”

“Madam Chania, continue with your good work. Tetea Wanjiku hadi apate haki yake,” Muiruri Hansome said.

Thika District Business Association Chairman Alfred Wanyoike during Madaraka Day fete in Thika said Del Monte accounts for 50 percent of Thika’s GDP, therefore, any move to push out the company will affect over 7, 000 lives.

Chania in her opposition warned that the county government was sabotaging the county’s economy and President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four agenda.

“We cannot tolerate economic sabotage from our own government. If any worker gets laid off because of the county government’s disruption of industries, we shall be on it badly, “warned Chania.