Mau evictions kick off time to take longer

Tuesday January 01 2019

Narok County Commissioner George Natembeya. He said the second round of Mau forest evictions will resume soon. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP


Phase two of the Mau Forest evictions would take longer than expected as Chief Justice David Maraga is yet to constitute a bench of judges to hear the matter, which has also been at the centre of political bickering.

The Environment and Lands Court in Narok referred the matter to Mr Maraga after Justice Mohamed Kullow said the petition raised weighty constitutional matters that could only be handled adequately by a three or five-judge bench.

The second round of the evictions, which the State said would continue uninterrupted, also seem to have been jolted by political contentions.

The evictions have split the political class right in the middle, one camp supports the exercise while the other opposes it.


At the close of the first phase, 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 Maasai Mau Forest in Narok.


The evictions were carried out in Kosia, Nkoben, Arorwet, Kipchoge and Total.

Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko and Narok County Commissioner George Natembeya have on several occasions said the State would not be intimidated or derailed in kicking out encroachers.

In an interview with the Nation, Mr Tobiko said it was unfortunate that leaders are politicising the issue despite knowing the significance of the forest.

Mr Tobiko termed the ethnic violence in Nakuru and Narok counties witnessed in September and re-emergence of the fighting in the second week of December in Narok South as sabotage of the looming second round of evictions.


At the same time, the government appears to go slow on the matter, especially after the evictions were linked to tribal clashes that rocked parts of Narok and Nakuru two months ago.

A number of residents of the affected areas in Nakuru said tension began building up in the areas after the government announced that the evictions would be extended to the county. The targeted areas lie in the eastern part of Mau Forest.

In the pending court case, Kericho Governor Paul Chepkwony and 13 other petitioners sought conservatory orders to stop the imminent evictions of more than 40,000 settlers from the forest.

Justice Kullow further said that the orders the petitioners were seeking had been overtaken by events after some of the targeted settlers were kicked out during phase one of the exercise in Narok.

He said legality of title deeds, illegal extension of group ranches, the legitimacy of cutline and the manner in which the evictions took place could only be established in a full court hearing.


Kericho Governor Paul Chepkwony argued that the national government wants to illegally evict people from Reiyo, Enakishomi, Sisiyan, Enoosokon and Nkaroni group ranches in Narok.

The settlers wanted the exercise suspended until the case is determined.

Those sued are Cabinet secretaries Fred Matiang'i (Interior) and Farida Karoney (Lands), Mr Natembeya and the National Land Commission.

Prosecution of group ranch officials said to have extended their land into the forest and prominent people who excised huge chunks of the water tower before selling them to the settlers is also yet to take off months after the State said it had the identities of the culprits.