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Molo forest eviction targeting only the poor, Nakuru leaders say

Monday July 13 2020
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Residents listen to Nakuru leaders at Kapsinendet trading centre on July 12, 2020. Thousands of families have fled the area in the ongoing evictions from the Mau Forest. PHOTO | JOHN NJOROGE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By FRANCIS MUREITHI
By JOHN NJOROGE

Some of the politicians from Nakuru County are reading political malice in the ongoing eviction of illegal settlers in Mau Forest in Molo.

The politicians are now turning the eviction into a political campaign ahead of the 2022 elections.

At the same time, the politicians claim that the eviction is selective and is targeting poor residents and leaving out influential people in the government.

Njoro MP Charity Kathambi Chepkwony wants the government to extend the ongoing eviction to all encroachers.

POWERFUL POLITICIANS

Ms Chepkwony claimed that powerful politicians own huge chunks of land in the area.

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A former State House operative during former President Daniel arap Moi’s regime, top civil servants in President Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration, a provincial administrator and a former police boss are among powerful land owners in Ngongongeri farm in Njoro which is also part of the larger Mau Forest ecosystem.

Interestingly, the powerful and influential individuals in Ngongongeri have not been issued with eviction notices like members of the Ogiek community who are being evicted from the water tower.

“Let the eviction be fair and across the board instead of the current scenario where only grass-thatched houses are burnt and those powerful individuals who were allocated land are not touched,” said Ms Chepkwony.

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Nakuru Woman Rep Liza Cherule addresses residents of Kapsinendet in Marioshoni, Nakuru County on July 12, 2020 over the ongoing evictions. PHOTO | JOHN NJOROGE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

NOT AWARE OF CUTLINE

Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika said the residents were not aware where the cutline was marked.

"Environment and Forestry CS Keriako Tobiko should come to the ground where the eviction is taking place instead of giving orders from Nairobi. Let him visit the area or send his team and show us where the cutline is,’’ said Senator Kihika.

Ms Kihika said the affected families should be given adequate notice to vacate the forest land.

"When we were casting our votes no one said that we are in the forest. But after voting and constructing administration offices and schools, we are now in the forest,’’ said Molo MP Kuria Kimani.

Mr Kimani said residents of Marioshoni are willing to move out voluntarily from the forest land.

He said TSC had posted teachers to the local schools who are paid by the government, indicating that they were not illegal settlers.

Other leaders who condemned the eviction were Nakuru Woman Rep Liza Chelule and Deputy Governor Eric Korir.

MORE EVICTIONS

More evictions are expected in Nessuit, Tachasis Chepkosa, Sururu and Likia targeting about 20,000 households.

“I urge President Uhuru Kenyatta to stop all the evictions including the pending demolitions in Ngong Forest,” said Ms Chepkwony.

She said the ongoing evictions are coming a time when the country is grappling with the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Many old people and children who are vulnerable are now living in the cold and if no action is not taken, it will contribute to more positive cases of the deadly disease,” said Ms Chepkwony.

The ministry of Education has released a report indicating that all schools constructed in Njoro where the next eviction will be carried out will not be registered as they are built on forest land.

FOOD SECURITY

The leaders warned that the evictions will affect food security as many evictees had planted cash crops on their farms which are about to be harvested.

Kenya Forest Service (KFS) is undertaking a multi-agency operation to reclaim Logoman, Sururu, Likia, Kiptunga, Mariashoni, Nessuit, Baraget and Oleposmoru forests within Mau Forest complex.

The operation started on June 27 and it involves 100 officers from KFS and the Kenya Police Service.

The mission of the operation is to stop all illegal human activities in these government forests which form the Eastern side of Mau Forest complex.

The current achievements include recovery of 4,500 hectares of forest land, 945 illegal structures destroyed, approximately five kilometres of illegal fencing destroyed, 3,803 illegally acquired cedar posts seized, one bow, five arrows and one aquiver recovered, three suspects arrested while transporting cedar posts and bamboo and one motorcycle recovered.

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