(English) January 06, 2014
BY MATHEWS NDANYI
The government will forcefully evict more than 15,000 squatters from the forests in Elgeyo Marakwet following the expiry of a 21-days notice issued last month.
County commissioner Arthur Osiya has said the squatters will not be given extra time to continue living in the forests as they had been paid Sh400,000 per family to buy land elsewhere.
“We will move them out any time. The government used public funds to pay them off and they have no excuse to continue living in the forests,” Osiya said.
Speaking to the Star on the phone yesterday, Osiya said the squatters have up to the end of today to vacate from the forests or face eviction.
“The government has given them enough time to prepare themselves and leave the forest. Some have heeded to the directive and left but majority of them are yet to vacate public forest. These are the people we are going to target in the operation,” Osiya said.
Security teams including administration and regular police officers, Kenya Forestry Service personnel from Marakwet East, Marakwet West, Keiyo North and Keiyo South subcounties have been mobilised to implement the eviction order. Late December last year, the government handed out Sh1.1 billion to 2,874 squatters.
Those still in the forests have said they need more time to look for suitable land in either Uasin Gishu or Trans Nzoia counties.
The squatters, who are calling for extension of time to leave the forest, said they were unable to scout around for land within the notice given to them by the government.
“Land owners willing to dispose off their pieces of land in the neighbouring counties are taking advantage of our situation to hike the prices and this has forced us to retreat until it is stable,” said Hellen Kattam, one of the beneficiaries.
Marakwet East MP Bowen Kangongo and former assistant Finance Minister John Marirmoi have pleaded with the government to give the families more time.
North Rift Kenya Forest Service head of conservancy Solomon Mibei said they will force them out to protect the forests from continued destruction.
It has emerged that many of the families have squandered the money given to them by President Uhuru Kenyatta last month.
There is now tension and fear looms in the Embobut forest as the government prepares to carry out a major operation to evict thousands of squatters.
Source: The Star