, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 15 – The official relocation of illegal squatters from the South Western Mau Forest reserve will start on Monday under the coordination of the Rift Valley Provincial Commissioner.
This follows the expiry of a 14-day vacation notice issued by the Kenya Forest Service to illegal squatters on the gazetted forestland for which no title deeds had been issued.
"In order to ensure a humane implementation of the exercise, the Government has mobilised various Ministries to provide security, transportation, food items, water and health facilities," a statement from Hassan Noor Hassan, Interim Coordinating Secretariat Chief Coordinator said.
Matters touching on security will be handled by the Provincial Administration, Internal Security and Forestry and Wildlife ministries.
The statement said the squatters will be provided with transportation and their property would be returned to their original homes.
"Provision of food items, including maize, beans and cooking fat will be co-ordinated through the Ministry of State for Special Programmes," the statement said.
The Ministries of Water and Irrigation and Health will ensure that the squatters get clean water and take care of health concerns during this exercise.
The Secretariats statement said: "In addition, the Ministry of Education has carried out a survey of the pupils residing in the forest."
The survey has found that: "There are only three non-registered seasonal primary schools in the forest namely Langam, Chesigar and Siratet comprising a total of 213 pupils, all going up to class 4."
It also revealed that: "There are no KCPE/KCSE candidates in the schools in the forests."
The Secretariat said schools bordering the forest are operating at 75 percent capacity and have the ability to absorb additional pupils should they be relocated from the forests.
Mr Hassan said: "In line with the above findings, it is expected that the relocation will not interfere in any significant manner with the schooling of the pupils residing in the forest."
The Interim Coordinating Secretariat said has developed a five-phase plan of action for the repossession of forestland in consultation with the relevant Ministries.
"Phases I and II dealing mainly with forestland for which no title deeds have been issued are currently being implemented," said the statement.
The other three phases which deal with title deeds and the issues of compensation and resettlements will be implemented from early 2010 onwards.
The statement explains: "Phase II concerns specifically the repossession of approximately 19,000 hectares in South Western Mau Forest Reserve of largely bamboo forest that have been encroached by illegal squatters.
"These squatters have no documentation to support their occupation of the forest. In addition, the area encroached has never been set aside by the Government for settlement. It is still and remains a protected forest reserve," details the communiqué.