ILLEGAL OCCUPATION

40 officials arrested for settling in Kitui reserve

They include a sub-county administrator from Bura area and a number of security enforcement officers from Tana River County.

In Summary

•The security operation is meant to flush our bandits who pose as camel herders

•Police vowed that neither local Kambas nor the outsiders inside the reserve would be spared.

A police officer walks around the Enyale illegal settlement in South Kitui national reserve before it was flattened two weeks ago.
EVICTION A police officer walks around the Enyale illegal settlement in South Kitui national reserve before it was flattened two weeks ago.
Image: Musembi Nzengu

Police in Kitui have arrested 40 government officers from Tana River County for illegally settling inside South Kitui national reserve.

The illegal settlers were apprehended on Sunday during a security operation to flush out persons who have encroached into the game reserve, majority of whom are camel herders from Tana River and other counties of North Eastern region.

Those nabbed, according to Kitui County Police Commander Llydia Ligame, were found in Kalalani, Kona Kariti and Ililuni area of the game reserve.

They include, among others, a sub-county administrator from Bura area and a number of security enforcement officers from Tana River County.

They are among illegal occupants who had defied orders from the Kitui County Commissioner, John Odengo, early last month for all illegal occupants to leave the reserve.

Odengo had vowed that neither local Kambas nor the outsiders inside the reserve would be spared.

Odengo said to end banditry and restore peace along the area of Kitui that borders Tana River, bandits who pass off as camel and livestock herders living in game reserve would be pushed out.

Two weeks ago a security operations in the South Kitui reserve saw an illegal camp fattened and the illegal occupants majority of whom are Somali camel herders forced out.

During the operation at Enyali, 300 families were said to have been left without homes and fled with their camels towards the neighbouring Tana River as others  moved their livestock  in the direction of North Eastern Kenya.

However, as the eviction operation got underway, some of the settlers sought and were granted an injunction to stop the eviction in areas of Mwanzele in Ukasi of Mwingi Central, Kyuso are and Mwingi north game reserve and even Kora national reserve.

Ligami said the security operation in South Kitui national reserve was not affected because the area was not among those covered by the Garissa High Court order that  stopped evictions.

Although, it has been clear that there were illegal settlers living in the South Kitui  reserve , the stay appear to have  been endorsed  by the County  government of Tana River and the CDF funding of the water projects, schools and mosques.