Kericho Governor Dr Erick Mutai, the Kericho County Assembly, and Kericho Senator Mr Aaron Cheruiyot received a report on Friday from a task force formed to investigate the contentious mechanisation of tea plucking and land under multinational tea companies in Kericho County.
While receiving the report, Governor Mutai praised the efforts of the task force led by Retired Captain Richard Too, saying that his desire has always been for the people of Kericho to benefit from the County’s resources.
“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,” Dr Mutai said after receiving the report at the Tea Research Foundation in Kericho.
Dr. Mutai believes that the land rate dispute between the county and the Kenya Tea Growers Association (KTGA) should be resolved outside of court rather than using taxpayer money to fight in court, arguing that they can always find ways to resolve their differences.
According to the Governor, the taskforce proposed that a national polytechnic be built on the land of a multinational tea company as part of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
According to Dr. Mutai, the taskforce has also recommended that the land under the multinational tea estates be resurveyed, noting that the tea estates have over 5000 acres that are not declared or accounted for in the tea estates.
He stated that they are requesting that the land be resurveyed for rate purposes and not to evict anyone.
He stated that they are looking forward to a positive relationship with the Kericho investors.
Dr. Mutai observed that the only thing they will not allow any investor in Kericho to do is make a profit of 200 percent while the people suffer. He went on to say that they want every engagement to be a win-win situation.
The governor also mentioned the recently reported sex-for-work scandal in multinational tea estates. He expressed his satisfaction that police were investigating the matter and had asked the complainants to report and register their concerns so that prosecution could take place.
He went on to say that the concerned companies took the matter seriously and sent the alleged perpetrators home. He hoped that the tea companies’ women would have a safe place to work and that the tea would be safe.
Senator Aaron Cheruiyot stated at the forum that they wanted to increase the land rates for land owned by multinational tea companies, but the companies went to court, delaying the process.
Cheruiyot stated that they have all agreed to go to the Ministry of Lands to look for land leases they signed with tea companies after failing to find copies in the Kericho lands office.
He also stated that the Tallai community will be resettled on Samburet land in Kericho because it is their ancestral home.
Mr Philip Rono of Kamasian ward represented the Kericho County assembly as majority leader.