KFS razes down houses

Kenya Forest Service (KFS) officers torched several houses at Maasai Mau forest settlement in Kipchoge area, sparking fear and anxiety among locals.

According to residents, armed KFS officers landed in the village at around 6pm on Wednesday and set the houses on fire. The resident said they believed that was a signal that they were being targeted for eviction.

Sagamian Ward MCA Wesley Koech, who visited the area, accused the Government of instilling fear among locals.

“This is wrong and uncalled for. Locals have started fleeing their homes with belongings,” said Koech, adding: “People are living in fear.”

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He said the officers could have sensitised locals on whatever was going on instead of “ambushing them with fire”.

Area County Commissioner George Natembeya said only three houses were torched for being “old and abandoned” and were used as hideouts by illegal forest loggers.

Criminals’ hideout

“KFS established that the structures were a hideout of criminals from Trans Mara, who have been poaching the protected cedar forest,” said the Commissioner.

Mr Natembeya clarified that the torching of the houses had nothing to do with the expected Phase Two evictions.

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There have been numerous calls by Narok leaders on the government to embark on Phase Two of the evictions to protect the country’s major water catchment area.

Early this year, Deputy President William Ruto said the Government was ready to deliberate with Narok leaders on ways to resolve the thorny Maasai Mau forest eviction issue.

The DP, who spoke at Ololung’a in Narok South during the burial of retired chief and politician Samuel ole Koriata, warned leaders against politicising the eviction debate.

“Last year, I ordered illegal settlers out of the forest and already 2,500 people who had encroached the forest are now out,” said Dr Ruto.

He appealed for calm and said the State was keen on conservancy.

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Kenya Forest ServiceMaasai Mau forestKipchogeGovernmentGeorge Natembeya