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Court declines to stop evictions in Maasai Mau forest

Wednesday July 25 2018

 Maasai Mau forest

A section of Maasai Mau forest, Narok County, on July 24, 2018 where people were evicted. PHOTO | AYUB MUIYURO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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The Environment and Lands Court has declined to issue conservatory orders stopping evictions from the Maasai Mau Forest.

Instead, Justice Mohammed Kullow called for an inter-partes hearing on August 6. Kericho Governor Paul Chepkwony had filed a petition seeking to stop the eviction of more than 40,000 settlers.

At the close of the first phase last week, the government had secured about 12,000 hectares of the forest, ejected 7,082 people and demolished over 1,700 temporary structures in the 46,000 hectare forest.

Narok County Commissioner George Natembeya said phase two was set to start. The evictions have been carried out in Kosia, Nkoben, Arorwet, Kipchoge and Total.


The governor filed the suit at the Environment and Lands Court in Narok, through lawyer Peter Wanyama. He said the national government, without any right or legal authority and in utter disrespect of property rights and human dignity, was forcibly evicting more than 40,000 people from Reiyo, Enakishomi, Sisiyan, Enoosokon and Nkaroni group ranches.


"Security officers are burning houses and livestock, and beating up property owners in a brazen display of impunity and high-handedness. It is scorched earth eviction,” states the petition.

He sued the cabinet secretaries for Interior, and for Land, Housing and Urban Development, as well as Narok County Commissioner George Natembeya and the National Land Commission.


"In 2008, the government created a huge cutline to separate group ranches from the forest, where Nyayo Tea Zones Development Corporation was allocated land that borders the forest. They have planted tea on this forest boundary,” reads the petition filed under a certificate of urgency.

But Justice Kullow called for an inter-partes hearing on August 6, 2018. That means the government will continue with the second phase of evictions targeting 40,000 settlers.

In another suit, 19 Maasai Mau residents have asked the court to stop the evictions. Mr Johnson Kimutai Cheruiyot and 19 others have sought orders barring the evictions, pending the hearing and determination of the case. They claim the respondents are in contempt of court orders issued four years ago.


“The application herein is urgent as the defendants are burning our houses, schools, granaries and churches, despite the honourable court's order issued on October 14, 2014,” reads the application.

They sued the Director of Kenya Forest Service (KFS), the Narok county government and the Director of Surveyors.

They said the respondents were in contempt of court orders.

Evictions have already been carried out in Kosia, Nkoben, Arorwet, Kipchoge and Total, with over 12,000 hectares secured.