Belgut Member of Parliament, Nelson Koech on Monday today recorded a statement regarding arson and related crimes at the multi-national tea estates in Kericho and Bomet.
He was among leaders, locals and activists who were being questioned after numerous attacks and massive destruction of, crops, tea plucking machines and other equipment by locals who are opposed to mechanization.
So far, Kericho Governor, Eric Mutai several Members of Bomet and Kericho County Assemblies, residents and five WhatsApp group admins have been questioned on the attacks.
Speaking after he was grilled at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) offices in Nakuru, Koech said there has been a lot of destruction due to an existing threat between people living close to the multi-nationals and the tea estates because of political pronouncement made by leaders.
He revealed that he was instructed to maintain peace, not make statements regarding the matter under probe and allow the DCI to continue investigating.
“I was at the same time asked to preach peace between residents and the multinationals,” said the MP who was accompanied by his lawyer, Bomet Senator, Hilary Sigei.
Koech said the push to de-escalate mechanisation was still a valid issue because of the state on un-employment in the country adding that it was necessary to have the youth absorbed in the multinationals.
“The multinationals should consider de-escalation of mechanisation at least in the meanwhile as the leaders find a solution to unemployment,” he said.
The legislator was quick to add that the push for de-escalation of mechanisation should not be taken as a green light to the youth to invade the tea estates and cause havoc in the name of kicking out mechanisation.
“The invation and destruction to property is totally wrong and un-acceptable and we will continue condemning it,” he said.
However, he vowed to continue advancing the idea of allowing people to take up most of the labour opportunities drawn by the multinationals.
He condemned a section of elders whom he accused of inciting the locals and maintained the need to have structured conversations with the multinationals
Koech said a section of leaders, him included have had cordial engagements with the tea estates and promised to continue the talks at that level because elected leaders are the representatives of the people.
“If they (multinationals) allow us the opportunity, we will engage better than every other group coming out to say they own part of the tea estates and in the process, inciting the young people look at the farms their rightful property,” he said.
He asked the elders to led the leadership of the two counties to engage with the multinationals and ensure that they get a better arrangements where the locals can be absorbed to serve in the tea estates while at the same time living in harmony without further destruction.
Sigei said the sermons were majorly to seek information in regards to the destruction at the tea estates.
“The issues involving multinationals, historical injustices and the legitimate concerns by the people of Kericho and Bomet are not new,” he said.
The lawyer-cum-politicians said leaders were reaching out to ensure proper investigations are done to achieve long term solutions so that the matter does not become a political story that recurs after every five years.