FOREST EVICTIONS

Mau declared operation zone and politicians told to keep away

'If your intention is to bring more problems, we will never allow you to step there'

In Summary

• Meetings must be cleared by regional administrators or the department of environment and forestry

• Settlers urged to heed government directive to leave within 60 days and pave the way for Mau forest restoration

A man views his ruined house after KFS officers descended on settlers at Kipchoge in Narok South during Phase 1 evictions in 2018.
THE AFTERMATH: A man views his ruined house after KFS officers descended on settlers at Kipchoge in Narok South during Phase 1 evictions in 2018.
Image: KIPLANG'AT KIRUI

The Mau forest is now an operation zone and out of bounds for political gatherings,  Narok county commissioner Samuel Kimiti said on Tuesday.

Kimiti said security has been strengthened leader and nobody will be allowed to advance his/her political interests. All these efforts are meant to ensure the restoration of the largest water tower in the country.

Those who want to have meetings must seek clearance first from his office, regional commissioner or department of environment and forestry.

“As a politician, if you want to be part of the solution to the Mau issue, you are welcome but if your intention is to bring more problems, we will never allow you to step there,” Kimiti said.

Kimiti's statement comes barely a week after Emurua Dikirr MP Johana Ng'eno, MCAs Samuel Kositany (Ilmotiok), Jafferson Langat (Ololulung’a ) were arrested on their way to Kirobon Primary School in the Mau forest.

They were accused of incitement, holding illegal meeting and obstruction. They were later released unconditionally.

The administrator urged the settlers to heed the government directive to move out of the forest to pave the way for the rehabilitation.

“Don’t allow politicians to mislead you that you will continue to stay in the forest or that there will be compensation. What will assist you is to know the government stand on the matter,” he said.

He disclosed that 1,650 people have voluntarily moved out of the forest since the government announced a 60-day notice for the settlers to leave.

 

“Half of them (settlers) have left while the rest have partially moved out and will go back for some of the belongings they left behind and leave the forest,” the administrator said.

He told the settlers still clinging to the forest to leave before the expiry of the deadline as the government will not relent on the rehabilitation of the Mau forest.

Kimiti told two Narok subcounty commissioners to start receiving title deeds from settlers willing to surrender the documents.

“Those who were conned to buy forest land should record a statement at DCI so that those behind these schemes are brought to book,” he said.

Narok North MP Moitalel ole Kenta welcomed the ban on meetings, saying it was long overdue.

“These politicians from outside Narok county are using the Mau issue as a tribal card, raising the political temperature and distracting the government from restoring the forest,” Kenta said.

But MP Ng'eno accused the administrator of trying to turn Kenya into a police state.

“Kenya has a constitution that allows freedom of expression. I will visit the area whenever I am invited and I will not seek anybody's approval,” he said.