Sisal firm declines to extend deadline to sale 3,000 acres

Teita Sisal Estate Managing Director Phillip Kyriaz shows then-Lands CAS Gideon Mung'aro the vast farm located in Taita-Taveta County. [Renson Mnyamwezi, Standard]

The management of the giant Teita Sisal Estate has insisted that it will not extend the six-month deadline of selling 3,000-acre plots in Mwatate municipality. 

At the same time, the management declined to reduce the price of the plots as requested by the local leaders. 

Teita Sisal Estate Managing Director Phillip Kyriaz said the sale of the plots will proceed as planned despite the local's plea to extend the deadline to one year. 

Speaking at a consultative meeting in Voi town on Sunday, Kyriaz encouraged the locals who were given priority, to buy the plots before the process is opened up to other Kenyans. 

“I will not extend the six-month deadline, let the local community take the plots and build the Mwatate Municipality. If they cannot buy the land, the company will continue planting sisal as its core business,” Kyriaz told the meeting convened by the Dawida and Tuaweta (Datu) group members.

The government has given the management of the sisal farm the green light to sell at least 3,000 acres of land to private developers.

However, the government advised Teita to consider locals first in the planned sale.

Kyriaz announced that the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) approved the firm’s master plan on March 4, 2024, after meeting all the environmental health, safety and socio-economic concerns.

He revealed that the sub-division of the land had already been done and locals have six months to buy 50 by 100 plots at Sh270,000 each and upon expiry of the deadline, the offer will be open to the public.

The Teita Sisal Estate MD revealed that prices for commercial, industrial and agricultural plots will be made public this week.

“It is now a chance for the locals to buy land and build their residential houses, commercial in phase one. We have talked to banks and Saccos to make arrangements for locals to access funds and the farm has contracted three agents to sell the land on its behalf. Those who will buy will get their title deeds in one week,” declared Kyriaz.

“We have rejected good offers from three investors from outside to buy all the plots because our main focus is allocating locals first," he added.

“We have sensitized locals to buy the plots first before the October deadline because prices will fluctuate every three months,” he told stakeholders consultative meeting at a hotel in Mwatate town.

Kyriaz said the new development of the 3,000-acre plot situated along the strategic Voi-Mwatate road will facilitate investment and economic growth for the benefit of the locals.

Records from the Ministry of Lands show that the farm measures 30,284 acres, including 5,000 acres of conservation area and 25,000 acres under sisal production.

In December 2023, local leaders and stakeholders validated the strategic environmental assessment report for the firm’s comprehensive mixed land use development master plan that has seen 3,000 acres of land hived off for the implementation of the Smart Green-inter working city in Mwatate town, the county’s headquarters.

Kyriaz disclosed that the new city flagship project is expected to open up business opportunities, and jobs and also support the country’s economic growth.

He said they have involved the locals, leaders, the county and national governments because the proposed new green city has huge economic potential.

Kyriaz revealed that under the first phase of the city, the firm will procure solar panels from China and construct underground water tanks.

Local leaders led by Maendeleo Ya Wanawake Organisation (MYWO) and Datu leaders challenged the locals to invest in the available land.

MYWO Taita Taveta branch chairperson Joshing Mboje said the land owner had put everything clear and it was time for the locals to buy the plots.

“Among notable major landowners in the region, it is only Teita Sisal Estate that has come out openly to sell land to the local community. We should seize this opportunity to invest in the land and develop,” said the official.

“The land legally belongs to the Kyriaz family and we stop asking many questions about the ownership of the land. Those sceptical about the land ownership should keep off to allow those willing to buy the land,” added Mboje.

Former Central Bank of Kenya Deputy Governor Jacinta Mwatela asked the farm management to reduce the plot prices so that many locals can acquire them.

Former Councillor Dickson Babu asked the locals to seize the opportunity and buy land for their socio-economic development and investment growth.

Datu chairperson Harry Cholla said all their concerns about the land tenure have adequately been addressed by the Teita Sisal Estate management.

“We have successfully heard all the issues of tenure of the land which had been addressed. We will sit down and process the buying of the land and locals have the opportunity to buy the land,” he said.

The Teita Sisal Estate lawyer Victor Mungai said the land in question was granted a lease of 999 years in line with the 2010 Constitution.

“The law does not operate retrospectively and does not affect the existing land,” he told the meeting.