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Leaders say Mau settlers occupy county trust land

RIFT VALLEY
By Steve Mkawale and Julius Chepkwony | August 25th 2019
Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen (center) and other Rift Valley leaders addresses the media after a meeting over the impending Mau Forest evictions in Nakuru, yesterday. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

The anticipated eviction of settlers from the Maasai Mau Forest took a new twist after Rift Valley leaders claimed 60,000 families targeted were living on trust land managed by the Narok County government.

More than 30 leaders from the region who met in Nakuru County yesterday, said the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) and the national government have no right to claim the settlers’ land.

“We want to make it clear that the people living in Narok South are actually living in a trust land and are genuine buyers of land from titles issued by the government and by no means can they be categorised as forest dwellers,” said Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen.

Areas targeted in the phase two of the Mau evictions include the five ranches which are believed to have been extended. The group ranches include Enokishomi, Enoosokon, Nkaroni and Sisian.

The phase one evictions targeted 10,000 illegal settlers in Reiya Group Ranch.

Engage in activism

Speaking after a seven-hour closed door meeting at Sarova Woodlands Hotel in Nakuru, Mr Murkomen, who is also the Elgeyo Marakwet Senator, said: “It is a trust land managed by the county government of Narok. In fact, we have reports that the planned evictions were meant to target a certain community in the trust land.”

The senator said they convened the meeting after Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko declared that plans for the second phase of the Mau forest eviction were in progress. “We are responsible leaders and part and parcel of this government. We have been looking forward to meet Mr Tobiko. We have been waiting for him to accept our request for an appointment only to receive news from the media that the government is planning an eviction in Mau,” he said.

Murkomen, however, revealed that the CS has given them an appointment on Tuesday to discuss the issue.

“We are peace loving Kenyans, we are the contributors and makers of the government of the day. Many people expected us to engage in activism but that would be irresponsible of us as leaders because we are part of the solution. We want to share the idea we have for the government and minister to appreciate the issue we are dealing with,” the senator said.

The meeting by the leaders who included governors, senators, MPs, Woman Reps, MCAs and former Cabinet ministers came after the multi-sectoral task force set up to review forestry management said it was ready for the second phase of the evictions.

Leaders at the meeting were Governors Paul Chepkwony (Kericho), Hilary Barchok (Bomet), Chama Cha Mashinani Party leader Isaac Ruto and Senator Aaron Cheruiyot.

MPs in attendance were Beatrice Kones (Bomet East), Nelson Koech (Belgut), Hillary Kosgei (Kipkelion West), Joseph Limo (Kipkelion East), Julius Melly (Tinderet), Caleb Kositany (Soi), Liza Chelule (Nakuru Woman MP) and Kericho Woman Rep Florence Bore.

Other MPs present were Nelson Koech (Belgut), Joseph Tonui (Kuresoi South), Janet Sitienei (Turbo), Sylvanus Maritim (Ainamoi MP)  and Sotik’s Dominick Koskei. Franklin Bett, chairman of the Agricultural Finance Corporation, also attended.

Former Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto said they were not against environmental conservation but wanted dialogue to resolve the Mau issue.

“We want to contribute to the solution. We are asking for dialogue, even the Constitution talks of public participation We want to look for a permanent solution to this recurrent problem,” Mr Ruto said.

He warned the Environment ministry against inhumane treatment of families, saying there are laid down procedures for land acquisition.

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