A boundary dispute between Kericho and Bomet counties has forced Unilever Tea Company to withhold land rates for its Ngoina tea estate.
At the centre of the battle between the counties is at least Sh1.4 million that the company is required to pay annually for the 13.8 hectares of land it holds on a 99-year lease.
Unilever East Africa Corporate Affairs and Sustainability Director Joseph Sunday said the company had been paying the money to Bomet County that until May.
“On January 3, we received a demand letter for rates from Kericho’s Bureti sub-county and on May 2 we also received a letter from Bomet County demanding land rates for Ngoina estate. Both counties claimed that Ngoina estate falls within their boundaries,” Mr Sunday said.
“Due to this conflict, Unilever Tea Kenya decided to withhold the payments for the said parcel of land until Bomet and Kericho resolve the boundary issue, upon which (we) will be advised by both counties as to whom the payment should be made.”
In a motion tabled in the Kericho County Assembly, House Majority Whip Gilbert Ngetich said Ngoina tea estate is located in Kericho and the remittance should go to the county.
“Kericho finance executive and his agriculture counterpart must, therefore, initiate the process of recovery of cess and rates paid to Bomet County with immediate effect and precision,” he said.
Also in focus by the Kericho MCAs is the land rates for Kerito tea estate owned by Sasini Tea Company.
Mr Ngetich claimed that though the company is located in Kericho, Sasini has been paying land rates to Nyamira County.
But in a swift rejoinder, Kenya Tea Growers Association Chief Executive Apollo Kiarii said Kerito tea estate traverses both Kericho and Nyamira and Sasini has been paying land rates to both counties.