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Eviction of locals from public land in Mt Elgon begins

Thursday March 15 2018

DENNIS LUBANGA
By DENNIS LUBANGA
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The eviction of more than 1,000 residents occupying public land and forest reserves in Mt Elgon region has begun.

This follows an order by Lands Cabinet Secretary Faridah Karoney during her tour of the region in the company of her Interior counterpart Fred Matiang’i two weeks ago directing those occupying public land to leave.

Evictions are currently ongoing in the region under the watch of the local administration and security chiefs.

WATER SOURCE
Speaking to the Nation on Thursday, Kopsiro Division assistant county commissioner Nicholas Ewoton said residents who were still occupying government land had been given until Friday to leave, failing which they will be prosecuted.

“We are not going to relent on our move to restore our forests and put public land to proper use.

"We have asked all those occupying these lands to vacate as soon as possible because land remains the source of conflict in Mt Elgon, which is also one of the major sources in this country,” Mr Ewoton said.

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The Nation learnt that the Lands ministry had already sent a group of surveyors who are assessing the land.

HOMELESS
Residents said they have nowhere to go. “Where does the government expect us to go after it evicts us from the place we have called home since 2007? More so, we have been paying levies to the county government and farming on this land,” Mr Isaac Wangutusi, a resident of Masaek village, said.

Ms Melisa Cherop, a resident, appealed to the government to give them more time to look for alternative places to relocate to.

“We don’t know what will happen to the crops we had planted this season. They may end up being destroyed,” she said.

Another resident, Mr Jared Sirgoi, said he was angered by the government’s decision to evict them “without notice”.

“Right now all our children are in school. They will find their homes demolished when they come back,” Mr Sirgoi said.

This comes as the government cracks the whip on three chiefs said to be colluding with criminals in the region to lease government land irregularly.