Kimilili MP Didimus Barasa has opposed the proposed gazettement of Chetambe Hills as a government forest, terming such a move unconstitutional.
Barasa said he was surprised by the attempt by Environment CS Keriako Tobiko to gazette the area. That is unacceptable as the place is home to over 30,000 people who have lived there since the world was created and have land ownership documents, he said.
Speaking in a Malindi hotel during an interview, the legislator said there was no public participation done prior to the government making such an announcement, adding that Kimilili people are concerned that there is no place for persons who will be displaced by gazettement of the forest.
“So, when you wake up in the morning and declare that land is going to be forestland then where do you want these people to go?” he said.
He said as leaders they are concerned because the gazettement targets part of Kimilili constituency.
Already, he said, they have engaged lawyers to go to court and challenge the gazettement but vowed that they will physically resist any attempt by the government to take over the ancestral land that belongs to the Tachoni community.
Barasa said the move clearly indicates how irresponsible the government is and the incompetence of the Cabinet Secretary.
“When Keriako Tobiko was the Director of Public Prosecution he never even successfully managed to prosecute a fly. This is a man who is very incompetent and he has put his incompetence before Kenyans by declaring Chetambe Hills forestland yet people have been living there for very many years,” he said.
He said it was wrong for such a move to be made without public engagement or consulting leaders and without a plan for where the people will be resettled.
“Whether we will use dogs, whether we will use whatever tool that will be available, we are going to ensure that we protect the land that belongs to our ancestors. It is not going to be business as usual. Let Keriako Tobiko dare send any forest officer or any government officer to Chetambe Hills in his attempt to implement his purported fake gazettement notice. He will meet with us,” he said.
Edited by Henry Makori