More than 5,000 members of the Ogiek community living in eastern Mau Forest have supported the government’s move to evict illegal settlers from the water tower.
During a meeting at Mariashoni in Nakuru County on Saturday, the community resolved to help the government identify illegal settlers in the forest.
However, the Ogiek Council of Elders Chairman Mr Joseph Towett said the community was not happy with the way the affected families were being evicted from the forest.
“While we support the government’s move to evict illegal settlers (from Mau Forest), the process should have a human face to reduce tension in the area,” said Mr Towett.
He called on the government to look for an alternative piece of land to settle the Mau evictees.
“Ogiek has borne the brunt of the clashes in Narok South as houses belonging to the members of the community have been torched,” said Mr Towett.
He said the mode of eviction in Narok South will bring more enmity between Kipsigis and Maasai communities who have been living in harmony.
At the same time, Mr Towett said that the government has not issued an official eviction notice to the affected people in eastern Mau.
“The government must bring a comprehensive programme on how to resettle the community which has been living in the forest for many years instead of issuing uncoordinated eviction notices,” said Mr Towett.
CANCEL TITLE DEEDS
Mr Towett said that in the past five years, the government has not engaged the community on the best way to address the matter.
“We are now demanding a comprehensive resettlement of the Ogiek and cancellation of all title deeds issued to illegal settlers and politicians who have grabbed the forest land,” said Mr Towett.
Mr Joseph Meringa from Nessuit said that the Kenya Forest Service and local administration were issuing eviction notices to the Ogiek living in Mariashoni, Nessuit and Kiptungo without consulting the community.
However, he said that members of the Ogiek community who have encroached the forest must cooperate with the government.
“We must protect the water catchment area in Mau Forest and the government should not turn the forest into a money minting resource for the rich and powerful,” said Mr Meringa.