HOT POLITICAL POTATO

Mau encroachers must be evicted - Tobiko

8,860 people were evicted in the first phase; documents reveal encroachment began in the 1970s

In Summary

• Powerful individuals grabbed forest land and sold some of it

• CS Tobiko says title deeds in the hands of encroachers are mere papers

Residents assist an evicted man after he was attacked by Kenya Forest Service officers evicting settlers from the Mau Forest on July 19, 2018
MOVE OUT: Residents assist an evicted man after he was attacked by Kenya Forest Service officers evicting settlers from the Mau Forest on July 19, 2018
Image: KIPLANG'AT KIRUI

The second phase of Mau evictions will proceed as planned and no amount politicization will stop it, Environment CS Keriako Tobiko said on Thursday.

Tobiko said he has written to the DPP and DCI to have action taken against "original sinners of the five group ranches."

"Water towers are our lungs and the rivers flowing are our bloodstream. When you touch the Mau issue, it becomes a hot political potato," he said. 

 

"Why would the environment become a political question? It does not know about tribes; the environment does not care."

Keriako spoke at the Kenya Water Towers Agency offices where he inaugurated its third board.

The members are Wambui Muriithi, Robert Mutuma, Peter Leitoro, Esther Wangombe, Edna Atisa, Timothy Naeku, Hibo Bishar, Wandia Maina and Bernard Mulwa.

Among those present was the water agency chairperson Julius Malombe and acting director general Julius Tanui.

Tanui said once evictions are done by a multi-agency team, the agency will secure the area before restoring it.

The agency boss said a policy set to strengthen the work of the agency as well as a Bill will be tabled in Parliament. 

Tanui said they have since managed to increase allocations to the agency from Sh100 million to Sh 600 million.

Commenting on the five task forces that have been established before to try and save Kenya's water towers, Tobiko said he will stop at nothing to evict encroachers.

"The five task forces were unanimous that people must be moved without compensation. Our Constitution does not protect property illegally acquired," he said.

The CS added that title deeds in the hands of encroachers are "mere papers."

Tobiko said those who bought land cannot plead ignorance for buying their parcels because they were not available for allocation. 

Maasai Mau Forest covers 114,355.251 acres (46,278 hectares).

During the first phase of the evictions, 1,772 households totaling 8,860 people were moved out.

The evictions took place from July 6 to July 10 between Nkoben river north boundary and Kosia.  

About 3,000 head of livestock were removed but crops were spared. 

Approximately 11,119.725 acres (4,500 hectares) were recovered.

A profiling exercise in 2008 targeting 7,971 households showed that over 30 per cent ( 2,436 ) household heads have no documents to support their occupation.

Tobiko took issue with ranch owners who he said expanded ranches from 17,297.35 acres (7,000 hectares) to 42,007.85 acres (17,000 hectares).

Tobiko said the communities they come from does not matter, encroachments have moved the country to a crisis. 

He urged the water agency to help coordinate to ensure the effort succeeds.

In August last year, Tobiko tabled documents in National Assembly that showed how Mau was hived illegally.

The documents show members of a former powerful family in the Maasai Mau Forest were among individuals to be held culpable for massive encroachment.

It also emerged that most land ownership documents are fake.

Documents seen by the Star show some companies and businesses associated with the late Lerionka ole Ntutu’s family were among the five group ranches that extended beyond adjudicated boundaries into the forest.

Ilngina Contractors Limited whose directors are Agens Ntutu, Kiteleiki Ntutu and Kunini Ntutu extended their boundaries beyond the resolved boundaries.

Izmir Enterprises, whose directors are Sahir Mughal and Asiya Mughal, also encroached into the forest.

Other companies and business names in the five group ranches that extended beyond their adjudicated boundaries are Kaetoni Enterprises and Kesumin Investment.

Mary Tamooh is the director at Kaetoni Enterprises while Kesumin Investment's director is Joseph Rotich. 

Sanyana Enterprises whose directors are Nathaniel Getonge (four shares) and Pacifica Nyambongo (one share)  also extended into the forest.

Others companies include Kamaleto Limited, Kapchi Farm, Katendwa Limited, Loresero Enterprise, Namelok Farm Enterprises, Ololarusi Investment Farm and Omugasi Service Company.

The 12 companies and business names were allocated land or transacted land in the five group ranches extending beyond adjudicated boundaries.

Tobiko tabled documents before the Kareke Mbiuki-led committee detailing how group ranches illegally encroached the forest before selling land to unsuspecting individuals.

The documents showed the Sisiyan group ranch originally had 1,105.7948 acres (447.5 hectares).

That ballooned to 2,618.57 acres(1,059.7 ha) after subdivision, bringing an additional titled forest area of 1,810.04 acres(732.5ha).

The Nkaroni group ranch had 3,947.50 acres (1,597.5ha) during the first registration. It shot up to 19,424.924 acres (7,861ha), an addition of 17,611.91 acres(7,127.3ha).

In another case, the Enoosokon group ranch had 383.01 acres(155ha) that later ballooned to 4,258.607 acres(1,723.4ha), an addition of 3,937.371 acres(1,593.4ha).

The Enakishomi group ranch had 2,086.8 acres(844.5 ha) before it ballooned to 20,186.99 acres(8,169.4ha) — 18,100.19 acres(7,324.9ha).

The Reyio group ranch had 64.2473 acres(26 ha), before increasing to 798.14 acres(323ha) after subdivision.

The documents showed that the genesis of Mau encroachment started when five group ranches adjacent to the bloc adjudicated in the 1970s applied for consent from the local land control board to subdivide their land among members.

The boundaries of their land were well defined at the time.

However, government officials, politicians, private surveyors, and influential people irregularly expanded the boundaries beyond original adjudication areas.

They fraudulently issued people with title deeds.

By 2005, illegal encroachment into the forest due to the expansion had created 1,963 parcels covering 42,257.42605 acres(17,101 ha).