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Tata Chemicals Magadi, which is embroiled in a Sh17 billion land rates dispute, on Saturday took the conflict a notch higher when it destroyed property belonging to Kajiado County Government.

During the 3am incident, the multinational mining company demolished the foundation of new county offices in Magadi town.

The firm’s management produced a court order and said the construction “on their land” is illegal.

“They have encroached on our land and we, therefore, took the right action in stopping them from trespassing into our leased property,” board member Titus Naikuni told the Star on the phone.

Officials showed journalists an order from the High Court in Kajiado dated January 31 barring the county government or its agents from trespassing, taking or constructing structures on their land.

The county was caught flat-footed. Contacted for comment, Governor Joseph ole Lenku said he was away in Arusha and could not respond immediately.

He sent an SMS saying he will respond when he returns to the country. The Governor said had received information about the destruction.

Tata Chemicals issued fresh orders to Magadi MCA Joseph Masiaya and Ward Administrator Julius Rikanka to vacate their company houses immediately.

The firm is contesting the land rates dating back to 2013.

Rikanka said he is aware of the destruction at the construction site.

“It is true there was demolition. The county government had begun the foundation for my office and those of enforcement officers, but we woke up to a total mess,” he said.

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Former Nominated MCA Charles Lekanet said Tata Chemicals showed no regard for the people of Magadi who gave them land.

Kajiado Finance executive Michael Semera said on Saturday they had not received any court injunction. 

He said the county government was building offices to serve the vast Magadi Ward that extends to the boundary of Narok.

“We are not constructing a factory in Magadi but we are taking our services to the people,” Semera said.

On January 31, Justice Reuben Nyakundi issued the injunction after Tata Chemical’s board member Naikuni swore an affidavit seeking to deter the county government from interfering with its operation.

Petition No 2 of 2019 listed the county government as the first respondent, the Attorney General as the second respondent and the Inspector General of Police as the third respondent.

Justice Nyakundi certified the application as urgent and will be heard ex-parte in the first instance.

He issued a conservatory order of injunction stopping the county government from trespassing, entering, closing, locking, blocking or interfering with the petitioner’s premises pending full hearing and determination of the petition.

The court also issued another temporary injunction restraining the county from collecting and enforcing its demand for alleged arrears of land rates and royalties from 2013 to 2018 pending a full hearing.

The hearing of the petition case is scheduled for February 5.

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