The Vihiga County Commissioner (CC), John Chelimo has instructed security organs in Hamisi Sub County to speed up investigations over destruction of Kamulembe forest rangers outpost, which was under construction at Kibiri forest in Muhudu location.
Speaking to KNA on phone Tuesday, Chelimo condemned the demolition, which preliminary investigations indicated was orchestrated by some disgruntled residents opposed to government’s ban on human activity in the forest.
According to police records, the building was brought down on Monday night by demolishers who were still at large.
Prior inquest points to people living around Kibiri forest that have been fighting construction of the outpost at the earmarked site, said Chelimo who was away in Nairobi on official duties.
The CC said individuals opposed to the outpost claimed the presence of forest rangers would deny them access to the rich forest, from which they illegally acquired resources, especially gold, timber and firewood.
I have directed security officers in Hamisi Sub County to speed up investigations into the matter and ensure culprits are arrested and taken to court, stated Chelimo, adding that the demolished structure had been strategically placed on a route used by the locals into the forest.
The CC regretted understaffing of rangers at Kenya Forestry Service (KFS) in Vihiga County, a situation he blamed for continuous mismanagement and destruction of forest resources in the region.
However, he appealed to the locals to desist from destroying the forest, which he noted was among the country’s gazetted water catchment areas.
This is an important natural resource that calls for collective protection form destruction by both the government and private individuals, urged Chelimo, who at the same time cautioned locals against taking the law into their hands.
Security officers would not tolerate individuals who destroy property belonging to the government, he warned, while promising to hold a public baraza in the area soon.
Speaking separately, Vihiga County Ecosystem Conservator, Thomas Changamu reiterated the County Commissioner’s remarks, saying, Security officers, including police, KFS rangers and crime investigators are already on the ground conducting operations.
The conservator appealed to members of public to volunteer any leads that would enable the security officers to arrest the perpetrators.
Source: Kenya News Agency