, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 19 – President Mwai Kibaki on Wednesday directed Prime Minister Raila Odinga to ensure people vacate the Mau forest to allow immediate reforestation.
The Head of State said any further delays in evicting those residing in the water catchment area will worsen the current water, power and food crisis.
“I urge him to oversee clearing of all forms of human habitations from all our water towers without further delay. I also urge the Prime Minister to do all he can to reclaim the forest illegally lost to private individuals and developers and have them fully replanted with trees afresh,” he said.
Mr Kibaki said the current drought had affected tourism which is among Kenya’s top revenue earners. He said the government was determined to protect the environment and restore all water towers.
He said: “I call upon Kenyans to understand that this is a matter of life and death for the nation. I call upon them to support this effort in every way they can in order to ensure the country has enough rain, water and food now and in the future.”
Politicians especially from Rift Valley where the forest lies have taken hard stands and used demands for compensation to delay Mau’s restoration.
The President noted that destruction of forests and other catchment areas had affected food production due to low and unreliable rainfall patterns that have led to power and water shortage in the country.
“The low rainfall is also causing a severe shortage of water across the country and has begun to, impact negatively on our power generation,” he said.
The President also used the opportunity to address security matters that have been a major concern and said he had directed security organs in the country to fight crime.
He said: “I have instructed the concerned agencies to vigorously step up the war against crime so that Kenyans can peacefully go about their business. I expect to see immediate results on this matter.”
The President spoke during the launch of the Office of the Prime Minister’s Strategic Plan 2009 – 2012.
He commended the Strategic Plan saying it attached importance to Public/Private sector partnership and assured that the Government was keen on collaborating with the private sector and the civil society.
He called on Kenyans to practise self responsibility and embrace virtues of hard work.
“Let us all make up our minds to do something that will ensure our country moves forward. What we need is progress so that we can make this world that God blessed us a better place,’’ said the President.
The Prime Minister on his part said the Plan will guide the government in transforming the public by embracing high standards of professionalism, integrity and ethics.
He explained that the plan focused on eight major priority areas to correct the tendency of the government to react to everything at once making it difficult to accomplish any development.
Mr Odinga promised to ensure that the strategic plan will be implemented in other institutions so that Kenyans can get expected results from government offices.
“One of the responsibilities of Government is to be clear about what is critical to our success and do it well. That is better than trying to do everything at once and do it poorly,” he added.
He identified infrastructure as the priority number one that the government should particularly work on.
Environment, food security, and the fight against corruption are other areas he said should be prioritised.
He said it was unfortunate that institutions set to fight corruption were instead condoning it.
“We should not permanently live in denial, corruption is a fact, we have created institutions that don’t work, they are supposed to be fighting corruption but they are defending it, we feel ashamed,” he said.