In Summary
  • Tata Chemicals has sued the county after the devolved unit locked the company’s offices early last month over unpaid land rates.
  • Court papers show that Tata Chemicals wants the county’s Finance Act, the basis on which the rates are calculated, to be declared null and void.
  • The company also complains in its petition that Governor Lenku threatened to cut off the water supply to the company at a public forum held in Magadi.

President Uhuru Kenyatta has waded into the Sh17 billion land rates dispute between Kajiado County and Tata Chemicals Magadi Ltd.

Sources privy to the information at the company indicate that the head of state has ordered officials to convene an inter-ministerial dispute resolution team at Harambee House.

The high-powered meeting set for next Tuesday will be attended by top officials from the Interior, Treasury and Mining ministries in an effort to resolve the feud that has soured relations between the Maasai community and the multi-national company that is harvesting soda ash at Lake Magadi.

When President Kenyatta toured Kajiado County on his way from Arusha and had lunch at Oltepesi Picnic site last weekend, he promised the community that he would mediate in the dispute.

He insisted that all investors have tax obligations and it was important that a cordial relationship is maintained.

TAXES

President Kenyatta then invited elected leaders from Kajiado to State House last Monday where the Tata Chemicals dispute was discussed as well as the fate of East African Portland Cement after the company sent more than 500 workers home last year.

Sources at the Interior Ministry confided to Nation that the President had expressed dismay at the staggering amounts in unpaid taxes and indicated the matter had to be settled to avoid further conflict between the Indian investors and locals.

Mining Principal Secretary John Omenge held a day long consultative meeting at Governor Joseph ole Lenku’s office on Wednesday.

Tata Chemicals has sued the county after the devolved unit locked the company’s offices early last month over unpaid land rates for the 224,000 acres it owns on leasehold.

The company is said to have defaulted on payment since 2013. On January 31, Tata Chemicals rushed to court seeking orders to restrain the county from demanding the Sh17 billion debt.

DEMOLITION

They also asked the court to give orders against interference of its property by the county agents. Kajiado High Court Judge Reuben Nyakundi gave the orders.

Tata Chemicals then went to Magadi and demolished the foundation of the office block which was to house the ward administrator’s office.

The official was to act as a liaison between the company, the county and the community.

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