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Mau settlers given two weeks to leave

Monday October 26 2009

A section of the Mau forest. All illegal settlers in Mau Forest have been given two weeks to leave. Photo/FILE

A section of the Mau forest. All illegal settlers in Mau Forest have been given two weeks to leave. Photo/FILE  

By KIBIWOTT KOROSS

All illegal settlers in Mau Forest have been given two weeks to leave.

According to a notice by the national forest conservator, the Kenya Forest Service, all persons residing illegally in South Western Mau Forest reserve were on Monday required to make arrangements to vacate the forest within 14 days.

A statement signed by KFS director Mr David Mbugua says the programme targets approximately 19,000 hectares of government gazetted forest in the Mau.

“Those illegally residing in Saino, Korao, Ndoinet , Tinet, Kiptagich and Kiptagich Extension Settlement Schemes are asked to move out of the forest as the government is trying to rehabilitate the Mau Forests Complex” the director said in a paid up advert on Monday.

Attention will then shift to south-western Mau, where 19,000 hectares being occupied by squatters will be taken back in the second of a five-phase recovery programme as the area has been turned into a battle field between ODM in the next two weeks.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga whose office was mandated by President Kibaki to oversee the restoration of the forest has been on loggerheads with ODM MPs from Rift Valley who have been demanding compensation of all squatters in the forest.

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A section of the MPs on Monday asked government to shelve plans to evict Mau squatters until the national examinations are completed.

Led by Kuresoi MP Zakayo Cheruiyot, the MPs said it was inhumane for the taskforce coordinating the evictions to eject families from the Mau complex as this would interfere with students who are either sitting or preparing to sit the Form Four and Standard Eight examinations.

“The team should be patient untill the examinations are over” Mr Cheruiyot said on Monday.

“It will be inhumane to start ejecting parents whose children are in the middle of examinations because this will have very negative implications on their performance,” the MP noted.

Chepalungu MP Isaac Ruto who has been bitterly opposed to the evictions said although he had not read the eviction notice, the information had not been communicated to the people on the ground.

“I have not read it but we are yet to receive official communication” said Mr Ruto from his Chepalungu constituency.

The first two phases will be concluded before the first week of December, according to Mr Hassan Noor Hassan, chairman of the Interim Coordinating Secretariat for the Mau Forest Complex.

The last three phases of the programme will deal with settlers who hold genuine titles to the portions of land they occupied, Mr Hassan added.

The last leg is expected to take longer as it will be undertaken with the guidance and approval of a special team of legal experts, including the attorney-general, as had been recommended by the Cabinet and Parliament, Mr Hassan said.