Barely a week after the Dominion Farms Ltd announced their exit from Siaya county, a section of Siaya county leaders and a community lobby groups have demanded a thorough audit of the American-owned rice farm’s financial status before it is allowed to exit the region.
Already, locals are planning to block the firm from moving assets from the farms.
The exit comes in the backdrop of serious allegations made by the American founder, Calvin Burgess who claimed that Nasa leader Raila Odinga and political leaders have been extorting money from the firm.
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Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi last week demanded that Dominion should not be allowed to leave before a thorough audit. “It is unfortunate that Dominion Farms had to close shop. The farm’s misfortunes can be attributed to the negative attitude it had with the local population and its leadership. They need to be thoroughly vetted before they leave,” said Wandayi .
The MP claimed that the Dominion employees are demanding huge amounts of money from their boss in unpaid salaries and that he must be forced to settle all pending bills before he is allowed to shut down operations in the area. Suppliers and contractors are also said to be demanding unpaid monies running to the tune of hundreds of millions.
On his part, director of Community Initiative Action Group Kenya Chris Owala called for a thorough investigation into the firm’s decision to exit several years before expiry of its lease agreement.
A serious land ownership row is now looming with local residents now demanding return of their ancestral land which they gave to Dominion. They are now demanding that the county government to initiate a transition process of transfer of the land initially leased to the company to curb tussles that may result from scramble for the parcel. “A thorough analysis of the land use should be conducted and ensure that the land is smoothly transferred to the county government for future use,” said Owala.
Sources say Dominion’s woes became public in February 2017 when Burgess accused Raila Odinga, Siaya governor Cornel Rasanga and five former Siaya MCAs of sabotaging its operations in the region. He accused the leaders of demanding bribes and fraud with an aim of a destabilising the company.