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February 16, 2019

South Rift leaders to discuss plight of Mau Forest evictees

Narok residents march in support of evictions from Mau Forest in July /KIPLANGAT KIRU
Narok residents march in support of evictions from Mau Forest in July /KIPLANGAT KIRU

Leaders from South Rift who are against Maasai Mau eviction are planning to meet over weekend to discuss the flight of those affected.

Former Bomet Governor Isaac Rutto disclosed yesterday that the meeting will be convened on Saturday in Kericho by the Kericho Governor Prof. Paul Chepkwony.

Speaking during a morning show in Kalenjin Station, Chamgei Fm, Rutto said those who have been moved out "were in bad shape, while others have since died."

"Children have died due to cold yet some people were still planning to proceed with evictions," he said.

The former governor who served shortly as Environment and Natural Resources minister during Daniel Moi's regime in 2002 said the cutline in Mau Nakuru had been dealt with.

"Some of the land had been excised by government to settle forest dwellers. Moi's government resolved the issue as it has been there ever since Kenyatta's (Jomo) time," he said adding that Kenyatta had impoverished them.

Rutto said then, laws gave the president powers to excise land for purposes of resettlement without having to go through parliament.

"President and minister had powers then. We later decided to design laws such that parliament approve the excising,"he said.

Rutto challenged elected leaders to protect the interests of their electorates.

In August, Ruto and Narok Senator Ledama Olekina visited Mau for a fact finding mission.

Yesterday, Rutto said the essence of the trip was to show that the cutline from Chebangang-Narok had a genuine cutline of natural forest. 

"We did not find encroachments," he said.

He said that they had been told that there is a cutline by Hassan Noor Hassan and Ole Ntutu commission.

"Who is Noor?, he is not an authority. The cutline by Nyayo Tea Zone must be used," Ruto said.

Narok county commissioner George Natembeya termed Rutto's utterances as "his opinion."

"Tea zone was part of the scheme to encroach,"Natembea told the Star on phone adding that many had taken the advantage.

The former governor accused Natembeya saying he wanted to remove the tea zones.

He said Olposimoru is gazetted forest but has been encroached.  "Why are they keen about other areas,?"he asked.

The former governor said he supported what was being done by the Deputy President William Ruto, Narok Governor Samuel  Tunai, land and environment ministry.

However, what is being done now is against what had been agreed on,he said.

The DP in May, 2017, had announced government plan to lift ban on land transactions in Mau Forest.

The move sparked an uproar amid concerns it could hurt rehabilitation of Kenya’s biggest closed-canopy forest.

The Ogiek Council of Elders had asked the DP to first form a national multi-stakeholder committee to address contentious ownership of controversial forest land.

Natembea said plans are in place to have the second phase targeting 15,000 in Sierra Leone was on course. However, resources needs to be found.

Natembeya said some of the occupants of the over 7,000-acre Sierra Leone settlement, where some have genuine claim over parcels of land, have started fleeing.

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