, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 28 – Cabinet Minister William Ole Ntimama has objected to the proposed compensation of Mau settlers and said it could set bad precedent.
The Narok North MP said on Tuesday that the action amounted to rewarding land grabbers who had destroyed the forest for more than a decade.
“It doesn’t take a person a year or months or even weeks to pack up his bags and go. It might take a few days and that’s all. All these others are delaying tactics to frustrate the efforts of the government to try and preserve the Mau forest,” Mr Ntimama said in reference to politicians who were championing for the compensation.
“And they say they are going to conserve, how can a man who has destroyed 25 percent of the Mau complex become a conservatoire? It is all fallacious and it just can’t happen.”
Agriculture Minister William Ruto has openly said that everyone settled in the water tower should be resettled. However Environment Minister John Michuki insists that only 1,962 people are genuine settlers (bought the land and have title deeds) and were entitled to compensation.
“When the squatters who went to Mt Kenya were removed, it was not a Sunday school exercise. They were pushed out and even from the Aberdare’s. What is the matter about these people saying they will plant trees? We don’t want them to plant trees, the government is going to plant trees,” said Mr Ntimama.
He noted that about 15 million people in East Africa have already felt the effects of the destruction especially through water shortage.
“Instead of saving the Mau, some politicians are using this catastrophe facing this country to forge unholy political alliances and creating tribal blocs in preparation for 2012. There are threats and extortions of the government over compensation,” he said.
At least 12 rivers source from the Mau, most of which were now drying up due to the continued destruction.
The Cabinet Minister also claimed that more people were now encroaching the forest hoping they would benefit from the suggested compensation.
“These people are deliberately committing mass murder by trying to stick on the water catchment area and this is the seriousness of the matter,” he said.
“And I like my friend Michuki (John, Environment Minister), because you know what he did (introducing rules) with the Matatus, cleaning up the Nairobi River and I think if he is given the opportunity to handle the Mau he will clear it within a few days.”
The Kenya Forest Service (KFS) Communications Officer Raphael Mworia told Capital News that the service had started evicting those who had settled on the non contentious part of the forest.
“These are people who are on the gazetted part of the forest especially the South West Mau. These do not need any compensation,” he said.
Mr Mworia said in the exercise that began four days ago, the KFS was not forcefully evicting them but was using dialogue.
“Everybody must have come from somewhere so they must go back to where they came from but we are not burning their houses,” he added.
The KFS official also revealed that the report by the 21- member taskforce set to formulate ways of conserving and protecting the forest divided the Mau complex in three parts to be managed by them (KFS), Kenya Wildlife Service and Narok County Council with the administration police.