They used Maina Kageni to lure farmers into the plains of Kajiado. Now Hundreds of local Investors are crying foul over their unpaid money owed to them by a local agribusiness venture, Diamond Property Merchants.
The project at the center stage is Bethany phase 3 that sits on a vast land in Kajiado County which promised farmers Sh1 million a year – by investing in two greenhouses worth Sh600,000. To reserve a plot, would be farmers were to send Sh10,000.
If you had out your money here, count your loss – and the owners agree that things have gone wrong.
To join the business, each investor was required to Purchase land for agribusiness purposes with the help of Diamond Property Merchants. Each customer bought an eighth of land each at a cost of Sh 450,000. Furthermore they were required to remit extra Sh 290,000 for helping to construct and erect green houses erection.
After completion and at the end of every year, each investor was to receive Sh 200,000 yearly. However, more than 500 members who joined the project are yet to receive the money. Their financial future in the project now hangs in balance as the appointed supplier Nguzo International ltd is engaged in a tag of war with project owner on who should take responsibility for the loses that occurred on the green houses.
Although Diamond Property Merchants owns several other such investments, Nguzo International admit that for this particular, the investment was not successful following the damage of green houses either by whirl wind or floods which destroyed some of the structures last prompting to the damage of crops.
Some others got destroyed by locals who invaded the agribusiness land with their livestock. But what some of the members may not be aware of is that, Losses occasioned by natural disaster such as the once that befell the project are not covered by the insurance industry thus making it a joint loss between the Investors and Nguzo the suppliers of the agricultural equipment and resources as per the Contract.
Due to the losses, the project owner is unable to remit any money to the farmer as no crops were produced, has had to let go of all their Employees and is now dealing with angry investors. Failure to pay the investors has now inked another pending unresolved problem.
While on paper every member of the Kajiado land project owns a piece of land, many of them in that particular project are yet to receive their title deeds for their 1/8 acre each for the land they bought “We are disappointed that although were promised better deal to make some good money out of the project, it has become an embarrassment and disbelieve. The project has brought financial tribulations because some of us took loans to join it yet there is nothing to show for it”, says one member who feared being mentioned his name as he is also engaged in another phase on the land Bethany phase 1 project is among the 5 phase’s projects owned by individuals who purchased the land with the help of Diamond property merchant to start agribusiness in a group in Kajiado.
“I was one of the 900 employees that working at Bethany project phase 1 on contractual terms before shifting to moved phase 3 of the 5 phases of the projects by diamond property merchants. I could not stand the challenges of the project and opted to shift”, says Richard Matelong
But supplies whose role is to oversee the day to day management and growth of the farm inputs while the project owner’s role is to provide adequate water and security on the farm. The supplier therefore believes it’s the owner who reneged on the contract when the bore holes dried up and some other structures got invaded by local.
But Diamond property merchants want the supplier to take responsibilities and pay the investors citing that the supplier should have taken more precautions to prevent occurrence of the challenges on the investment. The Diamond property General Manager Edwin Khiranga admits that there were some delays in having adequate water but he says since May last year the project has had adequate water.
“We had challenges in the Phase 3 because of the huge demand and positive reaction by the market, but we invested money including buying adjacent plots that had boreholes to shore up our water supplies,” he said. But whilst Edwin explains that there have been payments of Sh49 million and 50million respectively since the project began, investors have not received the regular payments as had earlier been anticipated in agreements.
According to the information available, Jubilee insurance who was contracted as insure may be visiting the farm for damage assessment. It’s however unlikely that insurer will pay since the structures were either destroyed by floods, bore holes dried up which are natural disasters rarely insured by the local companies.
“We have met with the management of Diamond and we have also met with investors to gather and I think there’s something that hasn’t gone right. They need to come out and clearly chat the way forward to investors”, says Cofec Secretary General Mr. Stephen Mutoro who registered his disappointment with the turn of events.
A meeting with investors on October 16 did not bare much fruit especially after the service provider Nguzo International was not able to meet the financial obligations with the investors. Investors have been asked not to take the law in their hands as the battle between Diamond Property and Nguzo International takes an ugly turn with a case filed with the Commercial courts.