By Kepher Otieno
Three people were arrested as forestry officers embarked on eviction of more than 300 squatters in Gwassi Hills in Suba District, Homa Bay County.
Forest guards, and Provincial Administration officers raided farms, destroyed crops, and demolished houses on Friday.
Nyanza acting Head of Forest Conservation Wilson Kiplagat said the families had been given a six-months notice, which expired on Wednesday.
“We told them to vacate and some were unwilling and this morning our surveillance team had to take action,” said Mr Kiplagat.
He said they discovered more than 200 acres of bhang planted by the illegal settlers. “It is sad that some of them have secured the land illegally and are using it for the wrong purpose,” said Kiplagat.
He disclosed they impounded 150 bags of charcoal made from indigenous trees in the forest.
The Government, he said, will not renege on its resolve to evict squatters who have enjoyed the benefits of the plots for two decades.
“This is a lawful operation and we don’t want people to read malice. We want to pursue the evictions in respect to the law and I urge culprits to comply,” he said.
“It defies logic to tell us to move out of the land, which some of us have held for the last ten years,” said Ken Onyango, a local. Onyango’s two-acre maize farm was also destroyed.
The Government is committed to improving the forest cover from 1.7 per cent to 10 per cent.
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