Over 2,000 left jobless as State suspends operations at Nyayo tea zone

A section of the over 2,000 harvesting purple tea at Nyayo Tea zone at Maasai Mau Forest. Government has suspended the operations at the about 2,000 acre plantation. [Robert Kiplagat/Standard]
More than 2,000 Nyayo Tea Zone workers have been kicked out of plantations on the edge of Mau Forest following a Government directive.

A contingent of security personnel drawn from the Kenya Forest Service (KFS), Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and county rangers yesterday invaded the tea zone and chased the workers away.

Mwai Muraguri, the KFS ecosystem conservator, described the plantation created in 2015 to separate Olpsimoru Forest from the Maasai Mau as illegal.

“The cut-line was initially supposed to be 100 metres wide but was increased to 300 metres,” said Mr Muraguri.

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The KFS official also accused Nyayo Tea Zone of cutting down trees in the area to make way for the tea plantations that cover up to 2,000 acres before an Environmental Impact Assessment was done.

According to KFS, the buffer zone was a wildlife corridor and the continued human activity posed a risk to the ecosystem and animal movements.

“We have over 2,000 workers who have been eking a living at the tea zone but for the sake of conserving this important water tower, we have to sacrifice them,” he said.

Some of the workers at the tea zone expressed their desperation following the eviction.

“This place has been my workplace for two years now. I do not know where to go next because we were not even given notice. This is unfair,” said John Kirui.

SEE ALSO :All set for Mau forest evictions

At the same time, County Commissioner George Natembeya has issued a warrant of arrest for officials of five group ranches in the area. The officials are suspected of illegally expanding the ranches and selling the land to unsuspecting buyers.

Mr Natembeya said a report indicated that group ranches such as Sisiyan expanded from 447.5 hectares to 1,215.6 hectares, Nkaroni from 1,597.5 hectares to 5,582.5 hectares and Enoosokon from 155 hectares to 663 hectares.

Also expanded was Enakisomi from 1,748.5 hectares to 9,748 and Reiyo from 26 hectares to 878 hectares.

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mau forest evictionsnyayo tea zoneNyayo Tea Zone workersKenya Forest Servicemau forest row