Del Monte Kenya has sued the government of Murang’a County, according to a report from Kenya’s The Star newspaper, after authorities declined to extend the leases for Del Monte’s pineapple plantations in Thika town.
The company, a subsidiary of Fresh Del Monte, is the country’s largest exporter of fresh and processed pineapples and pineapple juices, and boasts over 9,000ha of land.
The 99-year lease on the land is set to expire this year, and Del Monte has applied for a further term of 49 years.
It argues that, despite making the necessary applications for the extension of various leases and complying with the statutory procedure, the governments of Murang’a and Kiambu have failed to issue letters of “no objection” for such extensions.
The authorities instead requested that Del Monte hand over 600ha of land on the Thika-Kenol highway for “public use”, The Star reported.
Kiambu governor William Kabogo said all the land should be used to build residential and business structures, which he said would create jobs and decongest Thika town.
“I believe that the cash that will be reaped from licensing the houses that will be constructed on the land will exceed the tax that comes from the company,” he told All Africa in July, adding that most of the company’s profits ended up in overseas bank accounts.
Del Monte Kenya has claimed that the request is unconstitutional and illegal, with managing director Stergios Gkaliamoutsas expressing frustration at what he sees as the Murang’a government’s efforts to delay and frustrate the lease extension process.