In Summary
  • Tea companies have vowed to stop counties from imposing Sh10,000 new land rates per acre yearly.
  • They have complained that the new rates will drive them out of the industry and lead to massive job losses.

The row surrounding expiry of leases for multinationals in tea growing zones in Rift Valley may now be headed to the courts after the firms vowed to block counties from imposing Sh10,000 new land rates per acre yearly.

The multinationals have complained that the new rates will drive them out of the industry and lead to massive job losses.

The firms were dealt a big blow recently after the National Land Commission (NLC) made a radical ruling directing that expired land leases be reduced from 999 years to strictly 99 years in line with the 2010 Constitution.

In their ruling before the end of their terms, NLC commissioners also said the companies must work in consultation with counties and local communities, which suffered historical land injustices.
The companies said the new rates which NLC directed the devolved units to implement will lead to collapse of the sector.

Managers said the tea industry is at the moment facing hard times due to prolonged drought coupled with demands from the Kenya Plantation Workers Union (KPWU) seeking high salaries for tea workers.

“Paying Sh10,000 per acre to county governments per year and paying high power bills and high wages will make new investors to shun Kenya,” five senior managers from multinational tea companies in Rift Valley said in a statement.

The managers who asked for anonymity for fear of victimisation by county governments blamed devolved units for not inviting them for talks before announcing the new rates, terming NLC’s ruling unrealistic.

“Counties in regions where multinationals operate should have consulted first before imposing Sh10,000 per acre land rates. We will move to court to block and challenge the new rates since they are punitive and will discourage investors to Kenya,” the tea managers said.

High costs

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