NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 20 – The restoration of the Mau Forest Complex has started with 1,690 households targeted for removal without compensation within the next two months.
Coordinating Secretariat Chairman Hassan Noor said the areas targeted in the first and second phases are Likia, Mariashoni, Eastern and South Western Mau that were exercised from the forest but had not be allocated.
He said official procedures for the evictions for the areas covering 23,530 hectares are ongoing while the actual evictions scheduled on the ground would start shortly.
"If we are able to recover land from these four areas we will able to recover at least a quarter of the total degraded land in Mau," he said adding that the exercise would cost the government approximately Sh1,000 per hectare.
Mr Hassan assured that the secretariat was on course in its work despite skepticism from Kenyans owing to the politicisation of the matter.
"I know many Kenyans are waiting to here that people have left Mau, but we also need to realise that this was destroyed in 45 years; you do not expect us to recover it within a month," he added.
Three other phases which will cover areas under more contention is scheduled to start in January next year and will target the eviction of over 28,000 households.
The secretariat has also opened 14 ‘surrender of titles offices’ which they are encouraging people to voluntarily hand over their land titles.
"We are encouraging those who have titles to surrender them. At a later date you may want to discuss with the government about compensation those are the offices you go to," he said.
The secretariat was launched last month and tasked with the responsibility of coordinating the eviction of people and the restoration of the water tower whose 25 percent has been lost to human destruction. Already the effects of the destruction are being felt with the drying up of rivers emanating from the complex.
Lakes Nakuru, Naivasha, Elementaita and Natron have also started drying up.
While a big number of people encroached the forest in the past the former government exercised part of the forest to resettle squatters. Politicians from the region have however demanded that the government compensates all those in the forest irrespective of the legality of their titles.
"We have focused too much energy in the eviction but I think we should focused similar energy in the restoration," Mr Hassan said.
"We call upon the corporate companies in the country to come ‘own’ a piece in the Mau and help in the afforestation."