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Forest land owners call for lifting of sanctions

By BY KIPCHUMBA KEMEI | November 15th 2013


Narok County : Settlers who lay claim on the 146,800 hectares of land in Mau Forest want the Lands ministry to lift limitations it placed on their plots.

They claimed the limitations imposed in 2005 are preventing them from accessing development loans.

“The title deeds we have are useless papers. We cannot access loans using them because of the caution that was put by the ministry. We need loans for farming, cattle rearing among others. It is time the caveat is lifted,” said their leader, William Cheruiyot.

Mr Cheruiyot said they bought the parcels of land on willing buyer-willing seller basis, adding that Narok Governor Samuel Kuntai should press for the lifting because, the land they were occupying was once a trust land under the defunct Narok County Council.

“The governor should be in the forefront in agitating for the lifting of the caveat. The land we are occupying was not a Government land but a trust land under the county government,” said Cheruiyot of Sierra Leone area in the controversial forest.

Last month, the governor asked the Government to lift the caution for the settlers to access loans to develop their land, insisting that they have genuine claim over it ownership.

The claimants said they lost property worth millions of shillings in the 2005 eviction carried out by the defunct county council rangers and administration police, added that they were still waiting for compensation from the Government.

They also said they would not move out of the land and asked the Government to shelve plans to resettle them elsewhere. “What we are now waiting is compensation for the destruction of property. We want the Government to let us stay in our farms. It should not disturb the peace and conservation efforts we are currently undertaking in our parcels of land,” said Cheruiyot.

But their pleas to have the caveat lifted and for them to remain in their parcels have been opposed by a conservation agency.

The Friends of Mau Forest has faulted the Government for allowing the settlers to continue destroying the forest through delayed eviction.

“The settlers are hindering efforts to rehabilitate and conserve the forest, which forms the 400,000ha Mau Complex, and they should be kicked out. Those who want them to stay are enemies of conservation,” said Jackson Kamoe, its chairman.

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