Governor Joseph Lenku and Tata Chemicals wars over land rates spiraled on Saturday as the company demolished county government structures in Magadi.
The operation carried out by the multinational mining company as early as 3 am in Magadi town brought down structures meant for a construction of new administrative county offices.
The company’s management confirmed the demolition saying it was “illegally” placed on their land and even produced court orders supporting their action.
“They have encroached on our land and we therefore took the right action in stopping them from trespassing into our leased land,” said a company’s board member, Titus Naikuni on telephone.
The company showed journalists an order it sought from Kajiado High Court on January 31 barring the county government or its agents from trespassing, taking or constructing structures on their land.
The action in Magadi in the morning of Saturday, caught the county government flat-footed and some of its top officials, we conducted, including Lenku who was away in Arusha could not immediately respond to Tata Chemicals’ action.
As if to disgrace the county government further, Tata Chemicals Magadi Ltd have now issued fresh orders to house Magadi MCA Joseph Masiaya and Ward Administrator, Julius Rikanka to vacate their company houses with immediate effect.
The multinational is contesting a huge bill on land rates amounting to billions of shillings which dates back to 2013.
The county government, through Finance CECM Michael Semera early on Saturday said they had not received any court injunction restraining them from taking any action against Tata Chemicals Magadi Ltd after it failed to pay the more than Sh17 billion which accrued from land rates.
Governor Joseph Lenku told the Star from Arusha, Tanzania, through an SMS he will respond to the matter upon arrival in the country.
Lenku said he had received information the company had destroyed the county government offices’ construction site in Magadi town on Saturday morning and that he would also respond to the same on arrival.
Magadi Ward administration officer, Rikanka, confirmed the destruction of a county government site offices carried out at 3 am on Saturday by the mining company.
“It is true the entire site was demolished. The county government had started to build a foundation for my office and those of enforcement officers but we woke up to a real total mess,” said Rikanka.
Former nominated MCA, Charles Lekanet, accused Tata Chemicals Magadi Ltd of their action, adding that whatever the company did shows it has no regard to the people of Magadi who gave them land.
“If they think they are acting to offend the governor for taking a position on land rates, then they are yet to see the reaction from the Keek-Onyokie community that gave them that land,” warned Lekanet.
County Finance minister, Semera said the county government was constructing its offices to serve the vast Magadi Ward that extends up to the boundary of Kajiado and Narok.
“We are not constructing a factory in Magadi but we are taking our services to the people,” Semera said.
As regards the court injunction issued by Justice Nyakundi barring the county from interfering with Tata Chemicals Magadi property and land, Semera said he is not aware of such orders.
Tata Chemicals Ltd says it obtained temporary court orders stopping Kajiado County government from interfering with its operations and resources in Magadi.
The orders were issued by Justice Reuben Nyakundi on January 31 after one member of the Tata Chemicals Magadi Ltd management board, Titus Naikuni, sworn an affidavit seeking the court to grant several prayers that would deter the county government from interfering with its operation.
All the prayers in the petition, No. 2 of 2019 that listed the county government as 1st respondent, the Attorney General as 2nd respondent and the Inspector General of Police as 3rd respondent, were allowed by Justice Nyakundi.
Justice Nyakundi certified the application as urgent and to be heard ex-parte in the first instance.
He issued a conservatory order of injunction stopping the county government from trespassing, entering, closing, locking, blocking or interfering with the petitioner’s premises, factories and properties pending full hearing and determination of a constitutional petition filed by the petitioner in the same court.
The court also issued another temporary injunction restraining the 1st respondent from demanding, collecting and enforcing its demand for alleged arrears of land rates and royalties for the years 2013 to 2018 in the sum of Sh17, 448, 485, 646 or any other sum pending full hearing of a constitutional petition filed by Tata Chemicals Magadi.
“That, in the avoidance of doubt, the said conservatory orders extend to and shall prohibit the 1st respondent from constructing, occupying or taking possession of the petitioner’s properties pending the full hearing of a case already in court,” said Justice Nyakundi in his ruling.
The hearing of the constitution petition case will take place on February 5.