Forest evictees appeal for compensation by government

Over 8, 000 people living in slums of Laikipia County popularly known as Kang’a wants the government to compensate them for the losses incurred during a ruthless eviction from Marmanet forest.

The dwellers expressed their disappointment in the government, saying that most of them were employees of the Forest Service who had been living there for decades.

However, after years of diligent service to the government, they were evicted following an eviction notice signed by the then District Commissioner , John Nadasaba.

A KNA survey on Wednesday found a pathetic situation at Kang’a slum A where grandparents lived with their offspring in 17 by 40ft plots. A Kang’a is a plot where you cannot dig a hole of more than two feet due to stones underneath.

The villagers attributed their poverty to untimely eviction notice issued to them in 1988.

We were called for a meeting on 22/7/1988 by Laikipia District Commissioner, John Nadasaba who gave us 21 days to vacate the forest with all our belongings. We had developed homestead and crops were in the field. Our animals were bought at throw away prices and others we left behind for we had not planned for settlement, recalls James Mwaura Gachengi who served as a forest guard for 33 years.

Those who had studied in the various schools build by parents lost their certificates after the schools and homes were demolished.

Leah Wambui, a resident in Kang’a A slum bitterly recalls how her daughter dropped out of class six for lack of fees after eviction.

We constructed schools for our children. I had a child at school but after the schools were demolished, I could not afford to pay her fees in another school, she said.

Wambui added that their current situation at the Kang’a slum is pathetic for they risk of contracting diseases.

Every family is now living in a 17 by 40ft plot that we struggled to buy. The nearest hospital is at Karandi and Nyahururu, 12 and 30 kilometers away. We are facing difficulties in the slums because we even purchase graves in the cemetery to bury our family members or do it by the roadside if funds lack, grieved Wambui.

Wambui who came to Marmanet forest, Gitundaga block in 1964 as a young girl, said infants were buried on road sides and cited an incident where an adult male was buried in a four feet pit latrine.

Marmanet Evictee Association Chairman, Bishop Charles Gachema said that there were aged and disabled amongst them who died since they were not able to vacate and those who survived were living in unproductive lands of Kang’a villages and up to date, they have not received any help whatsoever.

Gachema said after they were evicted, another group was resettled in the forest that has destroyed the forest they worked so hard to see grow.

We are disturbed seeing the trees we planted being cut down and others being burnt for charcoal, added Gachema.

He appealed to the government to intervene through the National Land Commission and ensure they were compensated or resettled.

The government should appoint a commission of enquiry and compensate the victims for historic injustice pelted on us, adding that some of them were freedom fighters who died in pain and abject to poverty.

Source: Kenya News Agency