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Leaders united over Mau factory

BUSINESS
By | December 20th 2009

By Victor Mukele And Peter Mutai

Thirteen civic leaders from Kuresoi and Molo have opposed the demolition of the Kiptagich Tea Factory as part of the Government efforts to restore the Mau Forest complex.

The councillors led by Mr Simon Chirchir of Kiptagich ward said the tea factory is a source of livelihood for residents of Olenguruone and demolishing it would lead to loss of jobs.

Chirchir said they would not allow the Government to demolish such a key investment.

"If the Government demolishes Kiptagich then other factories near the complex should not be spared either," said Chirchir.

The civic leaders said they are also opposed to the second phase of evictions in the southeastern Mau. The evictions target more than 8,000 families living in the forest.

The leaders asked residents to stay put, claiming they were occupying the forestland legally.

Title Deeds

Nominated councillor Joseph Kibenei said the current Government issued title deeds to those being targeted by the second phase of eviction.

"We are asking those in Mau not to worry and stay put as they possess valid titles issued by this Government," he added.

Councillor James Tuei of Nakuru County Council called on the Government to speed up relocating Mau evictees from makeshift camps.

Separately, Kipkelion Kanu secretary Hillary Kosgei says the tea factory does not fall under the Mau complex. He said it borders the forest’s cutline.

Kosgei asked Prime Minister Raila Odinga to stop running the affairs of Government through hearsay.

Responding to the PM’s remarks on politicians owning big chunks of land in Mau, Kosgei asked Raila to prove they had land in the forest.

"If indeed Raila has proof Zakayo Cheruiyot has 5,000 acres in the Mau, then he should share it with Kenyans," he said.

Elsewhere, a non-governmental organisation has announced plans to introduce carbon trading to farmers living in Western Mau forest in a bid to encourage them conserve the water tower. Citizen Assembly will initiate the programme with the support of the United States International Agency for Development.

The Citizen Assembly National Coordinator Caroline Ruto said the initiative would see farmers paid money depending on indigenous trees they plant on their farms.

Speaking during the launch of the tree planting exercise at the edge of the Western Mau forest, Ms Ruto said her organisation will form 12 community-based groups in the region to implement the programme.

"We want farmers living around this area to be introduced to carbon trading as this will encourage them to plant trees in large numbers on their farms which will also boost environmental conservation efforts," she said.

During the exercise, more than one million tree seedlings of indigenous species were planted in some areas where trees have been destroyed deep into the forest.

Ruto said her organisation would also partner with Narok University’s department of natural resources and management in setting up a research centre.

Mobilising Communities

Konoin MP Julius Kones, who was the chief guest, hailed Citizen Assembly for mobilising communities living a round the forest to participate in conserving the country’s biggest water tower.

"I want to thank people living around the Western part of Mau forest which falls within my constituency and the entire South Rift region for ensuring there was no encroachment by those out to burn charcoal and engage in logging," Dr Kones said.

He said the western part of Mau forest was the only part of the complex still intact. He urged the local community to work with the Kenya Forest Service personnel to ensure no one encroaches on that section of the forest.

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