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State now targets Group ranches for encroachment of Maasai Mau

By Patrick Kibet and Robert Kiplagat | Published Wed, August 22nd 2018 at 00:00, Updated August 21st 2018 at 22:41 GMT +3

A house on flames after it was being set a blaze by a contingent of Officers from Rapid Deployment Unit (RDU),KFS and KWS at Ororwet in Masai Mau Forest ,Narok county on July 21,2018. [Photo:Kipsang Joseph/Standard]

A team of investigators from Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) is investigating group ranches linked to illegal excision of Maasai Mau forest.

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Regional Coordinator Mongo Chimwaga, in an interview with The Standard yesterday, said the investigators are looking into allegations that group ranches extended their acreage into the forest and later sold the land to settlers.

“We have formed a team to take statements of group ranch members following claims of extension of original parcels of land into forest land,” Mr Chimwaga said.

Members of Sisian, Reiya, Enoosokon, Nkaroni and Enakishomi group ranches have been targeted by State investigators to shed light over the illegal excision of huge chunks of forest land.

Twenty-three officials of the five group ranches have already recorded statements with the DCI.

Chimwaga added that once the process of verification of land titles is complete, the second phase of evictions will kick off within the next two weeks.

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“Those who have titles and land documents of parcels of land inside the forest have been directed to submit the documents to Narok North and Narok South sub-county offices for verification,” he added

In the first phase of evictions, more than 300 families were removed and 23,000 hectares reclaimed.

“We have some people who are registering evictees for compensation even though the Government has made it clear that no compensation will be paid for illegal settlers,” warned Chimwaga.

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Maasai Council of Elders Secretary Joseph ole Karia and member Kelena ole Nchoe have however claimed original maps were tampered with by unscrupulous land officials and land sold to settlers.

“The original map of the Sisian, Reiya, Enoosokon, Nkaroni and Enakishomi were tampered with by some unscrupulous officials who sold it to settlers. We support Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko that such officials should face legal action,” said Mr Karia.

The Maasai Mau Task Force 2009 report found that five group ranches had encroached on Maasai Mau trust land forest, through the creation of land parcels beyond the adjudicated boundaries.

“All title deeds for land parcels encroaching into the Maasai Mau trust Land forest should also be revoked. In Ol Pusimoru, all critical water catchments and biodiversity hot spots should be repossessed,” the report had recommended.

Last week, Narok County Commissioner George Natembeya received about 30 title deeds that were surrendered to his office.

Tobiko, while on a visit to Narok, further revealed that only 461 title deeds were genuine out of 716 title deeds which had been issued by past administrations.

Meanwhile, Narok North MP Moitalel ole Kenta has asked the DPP to investigate Nyao Tea Zone over the expansion of cutline in Mau forest.

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