NEWS 2009

October 12, 2009

Leaders demand immediate Mau evictions

Ogiek tribes children stand near tree stamp in Mauche settlement scheme of Mau Forest Complex in the Rift Valley, about 200 km (127 miles) to the south-west of Kenya's capital Nairobi, July 29, 2009. REUTERS

Three MPs among them Minister for National Heritage, Mr William Ntimama on Monday accused the government of dithering over removal of settlers from the Mau Forest Complex.

The leaders demanded that the settlers pack up and leave the forest as their continued stay was detrimental not just to the forest but communities who bank on rivers flowing from the Mau.

The declaration dubbed “Entiani Declaration” was made during a homecoming ceremony for the area councillor, Mr Reuben Kiramba at Entiani in Mau Narok division, Narok North and attended by MPs Ntimama, Narok North, Nkoidila Lanka, Narok South and their Molo counterpart, Mr Joseph Kiuna.

Addressing the crowd, Mr Ntimama on Sunday evening wondered why the settlers were vowing to stay put yet they were not born in the forest.

He said the settlers should immediately pack up and go back to where they came from.

Mr Ntimama said his community was the greatest victim of Mau destruction since it had affected their ecosystem and economy.

He said livestock, which was Maasai’s lifeline and main source of income were dying due to lack of pasture and water.

The Minister noted that Rivers Ewaso Ngiro, Narok and the Mara among other streams that were running through Maasai land had dried up due to environmental degradation in their catchment.

“All these problems are caused by climate change to environmental degradation, it is affected other people in the country and the region yet a small number of people are vowing to continue living in the forest,” he said.

Mr Ntimama wondered why the people were vowing to sty put yet they were not born in the forest.

He said the settlers should immediately pack up and go back to where they came from.

Mr Ntimama said the government should not compensate the settlers since they had reaped millions of shillings from the forest in terms of timber, charcoal and agricultural produce.

“Why is the government compensating them for, it is them who should be paying the State to enable it restore the forest they destroyed,” he said.

Mr Ntimama’s sentiment had been echoed by the other two MPs, councillors from Narok and Narok County councils, Nakuru Municipal Council, Molo and Narok Town councils and local leaders.

All the speakers who addressed the gathering told of how destruction of Mau had affected their livelihood and brought resources conflicts in the area.

Some of the community leaders appealed to the Minister to facilitate the establishment of a police post in Entiani to deal with increasing cases of resource conflicts and livestock theft.

Mr Ntimama assured the residents that he would talk with his Internal Security counterpart, Prof George Saitoti to ensure residents’ plea for a police station was heeded.

Mr Saitoti was expected at the meeting but he did not turn up.

The Narok South MP said out of the 22 forest blocks that make the Mau Forest Complex, only the Maasai Mau was forested because the Maasai conserved it.

Mr Lankas appealed to the government to prioritise Maasai Mau in its efforts to restore Mau lest it will also be cleared.

Mr Kiuna noted that the government was delaying the evictions while the settlers continued destroying the forest.

He added that the government should act quickly to save the vital water tower.

Councillors from Narok County Council asked the government to ensure that Maasai Mau was not taken away for the civic body.

“Narok County Council has always managed the forest and although there could have been small mistakes committed in the past, the government should not use the same to take away the forest from us,” said nominated councillor Lydia Ntimama.