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November 14, 2018

Laboso and Tunai break silence, vow to stand with Mau evictees

assembly majority leader Josphat Kirui, Deputy Governor Hillary Barchok and Governor Joyce Laboso visit families evicted from Mau Forest on July 31 /COLLINS LANGAT
assembly majority leader Josphat Kirui, Deputy Governor Hillary Barchok and Governor Joyce Laboso visit families evicted from Mau Forest on July 31 /COLLINS LANGAT

Governors Joyce Laboso and Samuel Tunai have broken their silence over the Mau evictions.

They want the government to find a lasting solution to the problem, which they termed perennial.

Laboso and Tunai have been quiet since the evictions started.

It is MPs and senators who have been at the forefront criticising the government over what they said was the inhumane in which the evictions were being carried out.

The aim of evictions is to preserve the Mau Forest Complex water tower, which has been badly degraded.

The two governors visited the Triangle area of the Mau in Narok South on Tuesday.

Tunai said his silence should not be misinterpreted to mean he does not care about the evictees.

The Narok governor said he has visited the area and stayed in touch with the evictees.

“You are our people...we have strong feelings for you and we shall stand with you until we find a solution to this issue,” Tunai said.

Laboso called for patience as the government looks for a lasting solution. The Bomet governor defended the evictees against claims of wrongdoing.

“These people are in government…they voted for jubilee and we do not want to make them pawns,” she said.

Tunai said he has dispatched surveyors to establish the forest cut-lines and settlement areas. He said the report will be released soon.

Laboso said they are not at war with their Maasai friends. “...we just came here to stand in solidarity with our people who have been affected,” she said.

The two were accompanied by deputy governors Evaline Aruasa (Narok) and Hillary Barchok (Bomet), as well as MCAs.

They donated 150 mattresses, 150 blankets and food. Laboso and Tunai criticised ‘constant interference’ in the lives of people in the area.

“We never came here to fight anyone but to call on government to fast-track the process of resettling evictees and giving a permanent solution,” Laboso said.

Senate Majority leader Kipchumba Murkomen has been one of the vocal Rift Valley legislators opposed to evictions.

Last month he accused Opposition leader Raila Odinga of being the mastermind. 

Mau Forest, the biggest water catchment area in the region, has been a hot potato for years.

In 2010, Deputy President William Ruto opposed Raila’s efforts to restore the forest and remove settlers.

He used the issue to alienate him [Raila] from most voters in Rift Valley in the 2013 General Election. 

The forest is critical to the survival of many rivers that support thousands of livelihoods from the highlands down to Lake Victoria.

However, it has been reduced to patches through settlements and wanton destruction overseen by previous governments. 

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