Unilever fails to stop work on Mau Summit, Kisumu road – Business Daily

Artist impression of the Mau summit toll road.
A bid by Unilever Tea to block the building of a section of the 76km Mau Summit-Kisumu highway has hit a snag after the Court of Appeal struck out the notice of appeal.
The multinational tea company lodged the notice of appeal to block the construction of the World Bank-funded project four years ago.
It wanted to challenge a ruling of the Environment and Lands Court that refused to restrain the Kenya National Highway Authority (KeNHA) from interfering with the land.
But the company failed to pursue the intended appeal prompting KeNHA to ask the appellate court to strike out the notice, on grounds that the matter involved an enormous economic undertaking in the construction and renovation of the national highway running into billions of shillings.
The roads agency wanted to use portions of the suit property that measures about 5,037 acres, among other parcels of land, for carrying out the proposed rehabilitation of the Mau Summit- Kericho Nyamasaria-Kisumu By-pass.
It urged the court that it would be “imprudent to allow the fate of the said Notice of Appeal and the intended appeal to remain hanging indefinitely with such uncertainty”.
The court heard that much is at stake for KeNHA and the general welfare of the public whose funds are used in such undertakings.
While ruling in favour of KeNHA, the Court of Appeal noted that the multinational tea firm was slow in pursuing the matter and it appeared to have an intention of holding the Notice of Appeal indefinitely over the roads agency.
“We are satisfied that the appellant (Unilever) was indolent and appeared intent on holding the Notice of appeal over the respondents’ heads indefinitely and only decided to act when they were served with this application,” ruled judges Wanjiru Karanja, Jamila Mohamed and Sankale Ole Kantai.
The legal dispute started after Unilever refused to take an offer of Sh48.2 million as compensation for the compulsory acquisition of the property. The award was made in December 2016.
Unilever stated that it had suffered loss and damage to the tune of Sh74.8 million being the value of the property acquired together with the costs of valuation and preparation for the inquiry.
It said the purported award was improper as it did not specify the value of the land, improvements thereon and disturbance allowance. It was also issued more than a week before the publication of the notice of intention to acquire the property and without the Notice of Inquiry.
In an affidavit sworn by Nicholas Yiannakis, the company’s MD, Unilever stated that before NLC issued the said Notice of inquiry, on July 19, 2017, the officers from KeNHA accompanied by the employees of road contractor Solei Boneh International (SBI) Holdings took possession of the suit property and started preparations for the road construction without following due process.
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By Kwetu Buzz

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