'NOT NEGOTIABLE'

Consult before embarking on Mau evictions, Tobiko told

CS urged to humanely manage the consequences of evicting 60,000 people.

In Summary

• The government intends to plant 1.8 billion trees across the country by 2020.

• The move will effectively increase the forest cover from the current 7.2 per cent of land cover to 10 per cent by 2022.

A man carries seedling for planting at the Kaptunga station of the Mau Forest complex in the Kenyan Rift Valley, January 15, 2010.
A man carries seedling for planting at the Kaptunga station of the Mau Forest complex in the Kenyan Rift Valley, January 15, 2010.
Image: FILE

Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko has been urged to consult widely before embarking on the second phase of Mau evictions.

The National Assembly Committee on Environment and Natural Resources chairperson Kareke Mbiuki told Tobiko to speak with all stakeholders before taking action.

Kareke said the CS should manage the consequences of evicting 60,000 people in a humane way.

“He should engage the leadership of the Maasai and Kalenjin communities to avoid mismanagement of this delicate process and come up with a win-win situation,” Mbiuki said.

On Sunday, Tobiko announced that the second phase of evictions was not negotiable.

“The Mau forest disputes are political and have nothing to do with the law being flouted,” Tobiko said at Narok County Commissioner’s office.

Tobiko said the government did not care which tribe the encroachers came from nor your political affiliation.

“Whether you are Tangatanga or Kieleweke, restoration (of the Mau) is now or never,” Tobiko said. 

The CS said it was wrong for leaders to politicise the evictions and restoration processes for the water tower.

The government intends to plant 1.8 billion trees across the country by 2020.

The move will increase the forest cover from the current 7.2 per cent of land cover to 10 per cent by 2022.

Mbiuki said the CS should also explore ways of giving ex gratia to the evictees. For this to be done, it is important to profile the evictees being removed.

More than 1,200 title deeds of Mau forest land acquired irregularly had been cancelled.

Some 10,000 illegal settlers were evicted during phase one of the restoration.  The evictions happened at Reiya Group Ranch in July last year.

More than 12,000 acres of the forest were reclaimed.

Kipkelion West MP Hillary Kosgei who is also in the Environment committee  took issue with Tobiko's stance that those with titles were merely "holding papers."

"Why did he [Tobiko] put up a paid advert in two leading newspapers seeking to revoke 2,500 titles deeds. This confirmed that the titles were valid," Kosgei said.

Kosgei said displacing 60,000 people is tantamount to crimes against humanity.

On Friday, Rift Valley Regional Commissioner George Natembeya gave a stern warning to politicians from the region against politicising the evictions.

Natembeya's warning came only 11 days after leaders from Rift Valley met with former Prime Minister Raila Odinga at Capitol Hill office in Nairobi.

Former Bomet Governor and Chama Cha Mashinani party leader Isaac Rutto, former Kuresoi South MP Zakayo Cheruiyot, former Buret MP Franklin Bett and former Konoin MP Paul Sang attended the meeting.

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

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

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

Settlers in Nkoben, Ilmotiok and Ololunga will be kicked out in the second phase 

Others are Enokishomi, Enoosokon, Nkaroni and Sisian.

(edited by O. Owino)