Governor Lenku sustains attack on Magadi Soda over Sh17b land rate

Kajiado Governor Joseph Ole Lenku (PHOTO: File)
KAJIADO, KENYA: Governor Joseph Ole Lenku has sustained attacks on a soda ash maker operating in the county over unpaid land rates

The Governor last week led residents to storm Tata Chemicals Limited, Africa’s largest soda ash manufacturer, over unpaid land rates. The move has since elicited sharp condemnations from local leaders and the private sector.

The Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) blasted Lenku saying that his actions would prove disastrous for both the County and National economies’ with investors consequently shying off.

At the top of the alleged grievances, include Sh17 billion of accumulated land rates by the firm that is based in Magadi Ward.

Speaking in Kajiado County on Sunday at a church fundraiser attended by Deputy President William Ruto, Lenku told DP Ruto that Kajiado was hosting a company that had refused to obey both the county and country’s laws.

Other grievances against Tata Chemicals include health risks and the governor claims that the company occupies too much land.

KEPSA worries that such a trend might spread to other counties.

KEPSA said that the grievances by the governor did not justify Lenku to “lead a crowd into the takeover of the premises and operations” of the firm that had been legitimately doing business in the country for over a century.

“These grievances may very well be legitimate. However, the same Constitution that gave birth to Counties and devolved powers to them also contains grievance resolution mechanisms. Hooliganism of the kind demonstrated by the County Governor is not one of those mechanisms,” said KEPSA in a statement.

“Instead, such actions will only serve to drive legitimate business away from Counties such as Kajiado, and ultimately away from Kenya, with untold consequences for Kenyans’ prospects for a better future.”

KEPSA said that the private sector endures the most of paying taxes to power the Kenyan economy and said that leaders like Lenku should be called to account for using hooliganism as a cover for “pursuing the people’s cause.”

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Governor Joseph Ole LenkuKenya Private Sector Alliance