Community group in Tharaka Nithi County asks for forest land back

THARAKA NITHI, KENYA: A community group in Tharaka Nithi County that had gone to court to block the fencing of Mount Kenya forest land have said they will accept the fencing on condition that they are given their land back.

The project was initiated by Rhino Ark Company in Embu, Meru and Tharaka Nithi in putting up an electric perimeter fence at a cost of Sh 2.5 Million per kilometer.

The group known as ‘atiririri bururi ma Chuka’ which comprises of various people from the Chuka community said that if the fencing is to be done 12kilometres should be left out since that is where the boundaries were.

Speaking to journalists at Kirubia in Chuka Igambang’ombe constituency the group chairman Ngai M’oboro said the private land was covered by the forest as time went by and the residents left due to animals.

The group said the land from River Thuchi to River Nithi is controlled by Kenya Forest Service but is not part of the forest but their ancestral land.

“The 12 kilometers land into the forest is our land but boundary was moved. The fence can be established but own land must be left out,” M’oboro said.

He said they have been asking for their ancestral land for over eighty years but the government has not headed to their cries.

Mr M’oboro said similar groups in Embu and Meru had fought for their lands in the forest and had succeeded in claiming it back.

He said the elderly in the community should be used to identify the boundaries that have been there since independence.

“What have we done wrong that our shambas are denied to us? The elderly people know where the boundaries were and should be used to identify them.”

The move to block the fencing has suspended the process till the case is finalised in Chuka law courts.

This had attracted the concerns from the county government after numerous incidences were reported of wildlife attacking their homes at night.

Tharaka Nithi Governor Samuel Ragwa earlier pleaded with them to allow the fencing since they were exposing themselves to danger.