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Another eviction looms in the Mau Forest

By Stephen Mkawale | Published Fri, July 20th 2018 at 00:00, Updated July 19th 2018 at 21:57 GMT +3
Some of those evicted from Maasai Mau Forest last week. The government has completed the first phase of the evictions freeing over 12,000 hectares of human settlement. [Robert Kiplagat, Standard]

 

The Government is planning another round of evictions of those accused of encroaching on a former Nyayo Tea Zone plantation near the Mau complex.

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The Kenya Forest Service (KFS) has given the 289 families two week to move out or face eviction.

Some of the settlers, who spoke on Thursday at Kiptagich trading centre in Olenguruone during a meeting with local leaders, said they did not deserve to be evicted because they had title deeds.

“At least 100 families have title deeds, issued by the Government, to their land. The Government should give us time to consult the ministries of Lands and Environment instead of kicking the families out,” said Kitagich MCA Robert Bett.

The families have four days to vacate the land said to be the forest cut-line. The Nyayo Tea Zone was established to act as a buffer zone between the residential area and the forest.

Mr Bett, who was accompanied by his counterparts Joseph Sang and Joseph Kipyegon of Naisuit and Ambusket wards respectively, condemned the ongoing evictions, terming them inhumane and uncalled for.

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Mr Sang accused the Government of flushing out residents from homes they genuinely owned.

He called on the Government to shelve the planned eviction because of the current chilly weather. “The Government should stop the eviction on humanitarian grounds because it is cold and families will suffer,” he said.

The eviction of settlers said to have encroached on the forest cut-line has been going on in Maasai Mau and will next week extend to areas bordering Nakuru County.

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At least 12,000 illegal settlers, living on 146,000 hectares of forest land, are being targeted in the evictions that started last week.

A multi-agency team of KFS, Administration Police and Kenya Wildlife Service is involved in the operation.

Narok North MP Moitalel ole Kenta and his Bomet Central counterpart, Ronald Tonui, have differed over the evictions.

While Mr Tonui opposed the evictions, Mr Kenta insisted the evictions must continue if the future of Kenya’s largest water tower was to be guaranteed.

Kenta dismissed Tonui’s concerns, saying most of the beneficiaries of the land were powerful people in the previous government, who also allocated or sold the land to their supporters.

The evictions are aimed at halting further depletion of the forest and stop activities that hamper conservation.

The Mau complex straddles several counties and is Kenya’s biggest forest. It is the source of water for Lake Victoria and the White Nile.

ALSO READ: Government secures more land after Mau evictions

 


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