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Lenku Orders Unclamping of Tata Trains, Opens Talks

After days of disagreements with Tata Chemicals Company over unpaid land rates, governor Joseph Lenku has now unclamped all the company’s clamped trains.

Michael Semera takes oath of office as the new county Finance Minister.

Lenku on Monday ordered the unclamping of the trains to allow more talks between the county and the company.

Immediately Lenku announced his decision, Tata Chemicals Company Ltd ordered its lawyers not to proceed to court as earlier announced they would sue the county government for allegedly using unorthodox means to clamp their trains.

Acting through the orders of governor Lenku, Finance CECM Michael Semera released all the clamped trains, coaches, cars and wagons on condition the company provides detailed reasons why they should be exempted from paying rates.

“We have allowed them to operate train services on condition that when we meet with their top managers on January 22, they must give us valid signed agreement which shows why they had deviated from County Finance Bill and opted for a gentleman agreement on the payment of land rates,” said Semera.

A member of Tata Chemicals Company Ltd and a government appointee, Stephen Moiko, thanked governor Lenku for allowing the company operates its train services between Magadi town and Konza.

Moiko, however, lamented that the clamping of trains had adversely affected the operations of the company that transports soda ash to the port of Mombasa through railway line.

“As we speak now, a ship has docked at Kilindini harbour  waiting for soda ash, and our fear is that we may not have loaded all the required stuff as at Friday, the day the ship is supposed to leave the country,” lamented Moiko.

He said the company is ready for talks with the county government at any time and at the same said they will provide the county with their grievances when they meet on January 22.

County Finance minister, Semera, insisted that Tata must be ready to provide approvals they did with former regime in form of agreement to lower land rates from Sh14, 000 to Sh120.

He said that after the county brought down the rates to Sh2000, Tata requested that it should pay Sh150.

“If the agreements were done with the former regime of David Nkedianye (former governor) in the streets, we will be willing to go to any length to ensure that Tata Chemicals pay all our dues in land rates amounting to Sh17 billion,” said the minister.

Tata Chemicals Company’s community liaison officer, Tulito Turere told journalists on Saturday that the company uses only 20 per cent of the land it is leasing for mining and the rest is used by the community for grazing their livestock.

But Semera on Monday said; “If the community is sitting on 80 per cent of the land, why can’t they do anything on that land without the approval of the company”.

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