By Standard Team
Kenya Forest Service has stirred a fresh storm over Mau Forest Complex by giving illegal settlers 14 days to vacate the water tower without a word on compensation. It also did not mention alternative land for evictees and compensation structure per hectare, and if at all it also targets plantation owners. Counting from August 3, when KFS put up the notice, it means the illegal occupiers have just nine days left, to wilfully pull down their homes and leave.
The service, which is under Forest and Wildlife Minister Noah Wekesa, could have put the Kwanza MPâs office on a collision course with that of Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who has the presidential mandate to reclaim forestlands to restore water towers.
It is expected that the PM will next week establish an interim secretariat to co-ordinate the implementation of the Cabinet decision on the Mau Forest Complex for a period of two years. KFSâ action, however, raised the fears of duplication of roles, conflicting orders, and confusion in management of the Mau issue, which has shown it could destabilise current political alliances.
The notice, which has raised fears of the settlers they could go empty-handed, was not specific on whether illegal occupiers include those who bought land from holders of illegal title deeds, and those who hold genuine titles for public forest lands.
The notice also raises questions on why the settlers would be shoved out before some of the key recommendations Cabinet agreed the Government must first implement on July 30, were realised. They include:
â¢ Demarcation and gazettement of all critical water catchment areas in the Mau Forest Complex and institution of their management according to the Water Act 2002.
â¢ Issuance of a notice of three months to non-deserving people who were allocated land to surrender title deeds.
â¢ Surveying, demarcation and issuance of title deeds for the 22 forest blocks in the Mau Complex.
â¢ Compensation of third party purchasers for value where applicable.
â¢ Setting up of conflict resolution mechanisms to address conflicts arising from use of natural resources management.