• Kimiti says contrary to reports, shop owners moved out and demolished their structures
• Settlers in forest have complained of police harassment, violation of human rights
Narok county commissioner Samuel Kimiti has dismissed claims that security personnel demolished 10 business premises in Sierra Leone area in Maasai Mau forest.
Kimiti said the owners of the shops moved out and demolished their structures, adding that the government is allowing people to leave the forest voluntarily.
The government has given illegal settlers in Mau forest 60 days to move out or be evicted. However, one group has been resisting the order, saying they legally own the land in the forest.
Settlers in the forest have complained of police harassment, violation of human rights and destruction of property. They alleged that security officers have been barricading roads, hampering their movement from the forest.
But on Monday, Kimiti said using force in the impending second phase of the Maasai Mau evictions was not a priority.
“Maasai Mau restoration will go on as planned, but we want to put a human face to it. I urge the public to disregard the false information making rounds in the media. This is mere propaganda by individuals looking for reasons to politicise the Mau evictions,” Kimiti said.
He said those inciting the settlers will face the full force of the law. Kimiti said illegal settlers should leave Mau forestland voluntarily instead of resisting and using violence.
The administrator cautioned youth against being used by politicians to resist impending evictions, saying politicians will not help them when the law catches up with them.
“Anyone who thinks that the government is joking will be arrested and those politicians inciting settlers will be investigated,” he said.
Kimiti urged parents to look out for their children against being used by politicians to propagate their agendas.
“In the end, if you allow your child to be used to assault police, you are the one who will be required to visit the hospital and courtroom,” Kimiti warned.
The county commissioner said re-afforestation will continue in the wetlands and the areas where the first phase of eviction took place, adding that the government has seedlings that will be planted when the rainy season begins.
The second phase of the water tower restoration is estimated to affect close to 60,000 people in which 15 schools will be closed. The education department in Narok has confirmed there are no candidates in those schools.
During the first phase of the eviction in July last year, about 7,700 people were evicted from forestland. Some 12,000 acres of the forest were reclaimed. It was centered on Reiya group ranch.
The second phase has Nkoben, Ilmotiok and Ololunga on the radar. The others areas are Enokishomi, Enoosokon, Nkaroni and Sisian.
The entire Maasai Mau restoration targets over 14,000 hectares (about 34,594 acres). Maasai Mau is one of the 22 blocks of the Mau complex.
The has eviction has provoked bitter exchanges between leaders of the Maa and Kalenjin communities.
Maasai leaders want the eviction to go on while the Kalenjin leaders want it to stop, terming it illegal and inhumane.
Mau is the largest water tower in the country, supporting millions of people and wildlife in Kenya and beyond.