The Bomet Central MP, Ronald Tonui has said that the ongoing eviction of settlers from the Masai section of Mau forest in Narok County should be done with a human face.
Tonui said the timing and manner of eviction was wrong, saying the settlers were being exposed to harsh weather condition.
Speaking to the press in Bomet town on Tuesday, the MP said the government should compensate the evictees to avoid a looming crisis of leaving them to languish in camps. If some of the settlers bought land from the local communities unknowing that it was government or forest land, investigations should be done and the settlers compensated upon leaving the forest, he said.
The evictees are suffering and they have grouped themselves in five camps in various locations and this is going to be a crisis. Some are going without food and clean drinking water in these camps, he added.
He lamented that children were suffering due to the cold weather, saying whatever situation they were undergoing, was due to poor eviction planning on the part of the government, adding that children should not suffer due negligence of parents and the government.
The legislator said the concerned departments should move quickly and ensure the evictees were compensated and camps closed to avoid attracting more people. Tonui pointed out that some of the people being evicted already have title deeds and there was no reasons the government could not compensated them.
Those with title deeds should be compensated without any further delay as the government officials should not just wake up and start chasing away people from the place they have called home for years, he said.
He added that if the government was serious with conservation, then it should move with speed and ensure the genuine land owners were adequately compensated or given land elsewhere so that they do not return to the forest.
Despite some leaders terming the title deeds being held by the evictees as mere papers, the question remains, who was the source of those papers if it was not the government? Tonui posed.
Why should the government expect the evictees or civil societies to spend lots of money in courts on a clear matter such as this instead of having a good plan of compensating the victims before leaving the forest, he wondered. He said he was going to table the matter before Parliament for discussion, saying it was a matter of national interest.
Tonui said that despite the fact that he supported the protection of the water catchments, he saw the current eviction as politically motivated by a section of ethnically inclined politicians from that region.
Meanwhile, Narok County Commissioner, George Natembea said the multi-agency force conducting the eviction would not look back. Natembeya revealed on Monday that the officers had cleared Nkoben area of all illegal settlers, saying more than 23,000 hectares of forest was targeted to be cleared of settlers in the exercise. More than 3, 000 families have been evicted since the exercise but began on Saturday.
Most of the evictees were believed to have moved to the area from Trans-Mara, Kisii, Bomet, Sotik and Bungoma. Natembeya warned those being moved out from creating internally Displaced Persons’ Camps in nearby areas. Some of those evicted pitched tents at Narok Church ministries, the Holistic churches and Osotua Primary school at Kapkulu trading centre.
Source: Kenya News Agency