Mau deadline looms as 3,366 families voluntarily exit area

Kenya wildlife services and Kenya Forest service officers patrolling at Sierra Leon area in Maasai Mau Forest. (Kipsang Joseph, Standard)
With two weeks left to the expiry of the 60-day notice to families illegally living in the Maasai Mau Forest, only 3,366 settlers have voluntarily vacated the disputed land.

According to Rift Valley Regional Commissioner George Natembeya, the government plans to evict 10,000 families irregularly allocated some 17,101 acres of forest land.

Mr Natembeya said more than 1,400 people have since demolished their houses while others are working to bring them down and collecting their valuables ahead of the October 31 deadline.

“Almost everyone has now moved their moveables and are now working on removing construction materials, including timber and iron sheets. So far 3,366 households have moved out while more than 1,400 have demolished their houses,” he said.

SEE ALSO :State: No extension of Mau exit notice

The Regional Commissioner said those who will not have moved out voluntarily will be forced out.

“There is only one option for those who will not have left voluntarily by end of this month,” he said.

Residents of Siera Leone are among those who have demolished their houses amid resistance in other areas. 

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Security officers deployed in the area ahead of the evictions have intensified patrols.

Call for dialogue

SEE ALSO :Allow for more consultation on Mau to avert humanitarian crisis

Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko had in July announced that the government will embark on phase two of the evictions.

Tobiko also warned the residents not to expect compensation.

A section of leaders have come out to protest the evictions, calling for talks to address the issue.

Chama Cha Mashinani party leader Isaac Ruto led a section of leaders from the Rift Valley pushing for dialogue. But the government stood its ground, saying the residents must move out. A three-judge bench of the Environment and Lands Court in Nakuru refused to grant 500 residents orders stopping the government from evicting them.

Instead, the judges ruled that the matter be heard and determined once and for all.

“We are not persuaded to grant interim orders. Our view is that it is best to have a determination made once and for all in the application,” said Justice Sila Munyao.

While the locals claim they are legal land owners of the land, the Government insists that the titles were not acquired genuinely.

Last week, come forest settlers complained over alleged closure of roads heading to their former residential areas by the government.

They claimed that the Olemekenyu-Sierra Road had been barricaded by multi-agency security personnel, hampering their movement.

Those affected by the operation insist the evictions should be carried out in a humane manner.

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George NatembeyaMaasai Mau ForestMau Evictions