County government revenue on Friday stormed Tata Chemicals’ premises in Kajiado town and locked all gates to demand Sh17 billion it is owed land rates.
The officers used inspection department askaris in the midday operation that paralysed company’s services which include train passenger travel.
Tata Chemicals Ltd’s corporate office spokesperson, Diana Irungu, told the Star lawyers from both sides were in talks immediately the county government blocked their premises in Kajiado town.
This happened after the regional government sent a demand fee note to Tata Chemicals in November last year demanding more than Sh17 billion defaulted county land rates.
After the county government sent the note, Tata Chemicals Ltd played down the matter saying “we are in negotiation with them”.
At the time, the county government had claimed the defaulted land rates dated back to 2013 and accrues from the company’s 224,991 acres where it operates and extracts soda ash in Magadi, Kajiado West.
It said Tata Chemicals, formerly Magadi Soda, owed the county the Sh17 billion calculated at a rate of Sh14, 000 per acre as per the current Finance Act.
The long running arrears had been negotiated downwards in a February 2015 ” secret deal” in a bid to cushion the company from collapse following the ballooned land rates arrears.
Documents in our possession show the deal sought to reduce the rates charged per acre from the Finance Act’s Sh14, 000 to Sh120.
“This deal would mean Tata Chemicals would remit to the County Government about Sh27 million every year, and not the Sh3.1 billion as per the current Finance Act,” said revenue director David Muntet.
Governor Joseph Ole Lenku categorically stated that the said deal in 2015 was an “act of fraud” against the people of Kajiado.
The county’s directorate of revenue went full throttle after defaulting corporate organizations, with Tata Chemicals being one of the leading defaulters.
According to the county’s revenue accounts, Tata Chemicals Ltd has been remitting cash as per the agreement but the county has only treated this as part of the Sh17 billion arrears. Muntet said, so far, slightly more than Sh100 million has been remitted by Tata Chemicals.