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Bus firm to get police backup in evictions of over 1,000 squatters

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Bus firm to get police backup in evictions of over 1,000 squatters


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Travellers board an Eldoret Express bus at Kangemi, Nairobi on August 8, 2020. PHOTO | NMG

Transport firm Eldoret Express Limited has secured a court’s approval to have police accompany auctioneers as they evict more than 1,000 squatters at Tawai farm in Trans Nzoia County.

The bus company had petitioned the court seeking enforcement of a Court of Appeal judgment, dated November 28, 2019, that declared the firm the legal owner of the 640-acre land.

Justice Samuel Kibunja allowed the company’s request for an order directing the Trans Nzoia’s county commissioner, the county commander, Kiminini sub-county officer commanding police division (OCPD) and the Kiminini Police Station boss (OCS) to accord Seventy-Seven Auctioneers police to maintain law, peace and order during the execution of the eviction order.

The eviction will mark the end of a 13-year court dispute for the property that lies South West of Kitale Town at Kiungani.

The director of Eldoret Express, Joseph Ng’ang’a Thungu, told court that after winning the court battle, the firm instructed Seventy-Seven Auctioneers to carry out the evictions but they would need police protection to avoid chaos and skirmishes that may endanger lives.

The judge noted that attempts by the squatters, through their land buying company Tawai Ltd, to have the eviction suspended had been rejected by the Supreme Court in March 2021 after the judges found there was no reason to allow a second appeal and that there was no any significant question of law that requires the further input of the apex court.

Justice Kibunja said the decision of the Supreme Court confirmed the bus company as the owner of the land, allowing it to take possession.

According to the firm, Tawai through its members and shareholders took advantage of the tensions surrounding the disputed 2007 presidential election to invade the land, prompting Eldoret Express to sue seeking to be declared the owner in 2008.

“As it is evident from the affidavit evidence presented by both sides that the Defendant (Tawai) has a sizeable number of people on the suit property, I agree with the Plaintiff (Eldoret Express) that it would be desirable to have the law enforcement agencies in the County to be involved in the eviction exercise, through the provision of security, and overseeing of the plaintiff taking possession of the suit property, so as to ensure law and order is maintained by all,” said the judge.

Dispute

At the centre of the land dispute was two title deeds issued for the same piece of land – one for Tawai Ltd and the other for Eldoret Express.

The land was initially part of the larger block measuring 764 acres that was owned by George Alexander Sinclair during the colonial era.

The company said it bought the land from Kaitet Tea Estates at a cost of Sh40 million in a transaction that started in 2000 and was completed the following year.

On their side, Tawai said they were the registered owners of the land at all material times since 1976.

Tawai said it bought the suit land in 1974 and took possession in October the same year. It then took a loan from Kenya National Capital Corporation (KNCC) bank in 1981 and used the title as security. Upon clearing payments, it got the title back in September 2008.

However, the Court of Appeal noted that Tawai defaulted the loan and the bank in exercise of its statutory power sub-divided the land and sold it.

Kaitet, a company associated with former governor of the Central Bank Eric Kotut, purchased the land from the bank at a cost of Sh7.1 million and a transfer was done on July 17, 1987. Kaitet later sold it to the bus company.

“That evidence of transfer by private treaty in exercise of the chargee’s (bank) power of sale, which was then duly registered, passed a good title to Kaitet,” the appellate judges said.

The court noted that there was nothing on the record to show or suggest, less still prove, that there was any illegality, fraud or misrepresentation in the creation of the title held by Kaitet.

The judges held that Tawai’s efforts to recover the land from Kaitet were futile since the claim was filed in May 2011, 24 years after Kaitet’s registration. The law sets a 12-year limitation for claims for the recovery of land.

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KQ resumes Mumbai flights after 4 months

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KQ resumes Mumbai flights after 4 months


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A Kenya Airways aircraft at JKIA. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Kenya Airways will on Thursday resume flights to Mumbai, ending a four-month hiatus that was occasioned by increased cases of Covid-19 in the Asian state.
  • The airline in a notice to its customers yesterday said it will resume its operations on the route on September 16, 2021 with the first flight departing Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 7am to arrive in Mumbai at 3:45 pm.

Kenya Airways #ticker:KQ will on Thursday resume flights to Mumbai, ending a four-month hiatus that was occasioned by increased cases of Covid-19 in the Asian state.

The airline in a notice to its customers Monday said it will resume its operations on the route on September 16, 2021 with the first flight departing Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 7am to arrive in Mumbai at 3:45 pm.

The airline will then resume full operations on the route on September 20, flying three times per week on the Indian route, which is one of the most lucrative destinations on its network.

Passengers on the route will part with Sh46,000 ($419) for one-way air ticket on economy class seats from Nairobi to Mumbai- prices that are relatively the same compared to what it was charging before the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Welcome back onboard! Fly from Nairobi to Mumbai starting Thursday 16th September with normal schedules resuming from Monday 20th September 2021,” said the airline in a notice to its customers yesterday.

KQ Suspended passenger flights to and from Mumbai on April 30 until further notice, following a government directive on travel between India and Kenya due to a Covid-19 crisis in that country.

The airline said on Friday that passengers who had booked tickets after May 1, the date of the last flight from Mumbai to Nairobi, will have to change their plans.

Affected passengers, KQ said, could also take vouchers for the value of their fare for future travel within 12 months.

India has seen soaring infection rates in the recent days, since the discovery of a new virus variant. Last month, India put on lockdown one of the states following a spike in cases of Covid-19.

Other countries that have banned flights to India include France, the UK Bangladesh, Oman and Hong Kong that have banned travel to and from India or asked their nationals coming from the Asian country to isolate themselves in government-approved hotels.

India has so far detected 33,264,175 corona virus cases with the number of deaths hitting 442,874 as at September 13.

A large number of patients from Kenya also travel to India every year for specialised medical treatment, especially cancer care, helping to drive medical tourism in the densely populated country that boasts affordable and easily accessible healthcare.

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Lower import volumes push mitumba prices to new highs

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Lower import volumes push mitumba prices to new highs


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Man pulls a cart loaded with second-hand clothes at Gikomba Market in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Traders paid Sh100,527 on average per tonne of the used clothes, popularly called mitumba, compared to Sh96,286 the previous year.
  • Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) banned importation of the clothes from late March through mid-August in a bid to contain the spread of the life-threatening coronavirus infections.
  • Findings of the Economic Survey 2021 suggests dealers shipped in 121,778 tonnes of mitumba in 2020, a 34.02 percent fall compared with 2019 and the lowest volumes since 2015.

The average price of a tonne of second-hand clothing items imported into the country crossed the Sh100,000 mark for the first time last year on reduced volumes in the wake of safety protocols and guidelines to curb spread of coronavirus.

Traders paid Sh100,527 on average per tonne of the used clothes, popularly called mitumba, compared to Sh96,286 the previous year.

Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) banned importation of the clothes from late March through mid-August in a bid to contain the spread of the life-threatening coronavirus infections.

Findings of the Economic Survey 2021 suggests dealers shipped in 121,778 tonnes of mitumba in 2020, a 34.02 percent fall compared with 2019 and the lowest volumes since 2015.

Last year’s drop was the first dip since 2011 when 76,533 tonnes were shipped in compared with 80,423 tonnes the previous year, the official data collated by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows.

The import bill for the merchandise amounted to Sh12.24 billion, a drop of 31.11 percent, or Sh5.53 billion, year-on-year.

TIn imposing the temporary ban on used clothes, Kebs had applied a standard which prohibits buying second-hand clothes from countries experiencing epidemics to ensure disease-causing microorganisms are not imported into Kenya.

Higher quality and relatively lower prices for mitumba has continued to drive demand for used clothes at expense of locally-made products amid higher margins enjoyed by traders largely operating in informal markets.

The lucrative second-hand clothing market has seen traders from China —a key source market for the merchandise —open shops in Gikomba, Kenya’s largest informal market for mitumba, in recent years to cash in rising demand.

Earnings from exports of articles of apparel and clothing accessories fell 5.32 percent to Sh32.92 billion last year compared with 2019, data indicates.

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Court backs Atwoli union in horticulture membership feud

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Court backs Atwoli union in horticulture membership feud


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Cotu boss Francis Atwoli. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Summary

  • A trade union that is led by the long-serving Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) boss Francis Atwoli has survived an attempt to stop it from representing over 60,000 workers in the horticulture industry.
  • Newly registered Kenya Export, Floriculture, Horticulture, and Allied Workers Union (Kefhau) had filed as a case in the Employment and Labour seeking to bar the Atwoli-led Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union (KPAWU) from representing workers in the industry.

A trade union that is led by the long-serving Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) boss Francis Atwoli has survived an attempt to stop it from representing over 60,000 workers in the horticulture industry.

Newly registered Kenya Export, Floriculture, Horticulture, and Allied Workers Union (Kefhau) had filed as a case in the Employment and Labour seeking to bar the Atwoli-led Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union (KPAWU) from representing workers in the industry.

Mr Atwoli is the secretary-general of KPAWU. The rival union claimed KPAWU had encroached on its area of workers’ representation.

Justice James Rika, however, dismissed the claim and ruled that the dispute should have been taken through conciliation, and was therefore presented in court prematurely.

He also stated that Kefhau must go beyond its registration and recruit sufficient members from the employers, to be granted recognition and organisational rights.

“Registration on its own, does not afford the claimant (Kefhau) recognition. Until there is proof that Kefhau has satisfied Section 54 of the Labour Relations Act, the status quo must be maintained,” said the judge.

“Kefhau must recruit at least 50 percent plus one, of the unionisable employees in the floriculture and horticulture industry, members of the Agricultural Employers Association to be considered for recognition,” he stated.

He noted that there is a Recognition Agreement and CBA, binding Mr Atwoli’s union and Agricultural Employers Association, affecting 73 Flower Growers Group of employers, and over 60,000 employees.

“It is objectionable for Kefhau to be allowed organisational rights, and the legitimacy to receive trade union dues and agency fees, from over 60,000 employees, just on the strength of registration as a trade union,” said the judge.

Kefhau wanted the court to declare that it is the sole trade union, which is allowed by its constitution to carry out activities in the export floriculture and vegetable industry, and an order restraining Mr Atwoli’s from representing workers in that area.

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