By Robert Masai in Dalalekutuk, Kajiado
Governor Joseph Lenku on Saturday threatened to close down Tata Chemicals Magadi Ltd godowns in Kajiado town from Monday citing health issues.
The stores in Kajiado town accommodate hundreds of metric tonnes of finished products and soda ash from the company’s plant in Magadi for export through Mombasa seaport.
Lenku, who spoke during the thanksgiving for his education CECM, Samuel Kanar in Dalalekutuk Ward, Kajiado Central Sub County, said his decision to close the stores has been allegedly informed by a public outcry over the uncontrolled emission of dust from the godowns.
“I have taken the decision to save the lives of Kajiado town residents from the agonies of the emissions that are threatening the safety of children,” said Lenku during the thanksgiving ceremony also attended by Narok governor Samuel Tunai.
The threat made by Lenku came out at the time the county government is embroiled in bitter wrangles with the multinational mining company based in Magadi, and which is allegedly owing the county more than Sh17 billion in land rates and royalties.
The company petitioned the county government in courts over their land rates demands in a case expected to take off on February 22 in Kajiado High Court.
There is also another case lodged by the county government at Kajiado High Court after Tata Chemicals allegedly destroyed a construction site on February 2 belonging to the county.
Tata Chemicals Magadi Ltd inherited the company that leased more than 224, 000 acres of land in Magadi Ward, Kajiado West in 1928.
Lenku on Saturday said: “While we are waiting for the outcome of a case we filed at Kajiado High Court where the said company destroyed our property, we will not be cowed from demanding for our rights from the company. They have to pay our rates.”
He claimed that the multinational company signed an agreement with the Iloodokilani community in 2004 to cede some acres it was sitting on, and which they are not using to the local people.
“This company has refused to abide by the rules under the Mining Act 2016, which stipulates its conduct with the local community, already we have asked the county assembly to investigate their conduct and why it does not follow laid down regulations provided by the law,” said Lenku. He said the company’s godowns i n Kajiado should be moved elsewhere.