NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 13 – Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko has categorically stated that evictees from the expansive Mau forest will not be compensated.
Tobiko who appeared before the National Assembly Environment Committee warned that the evictees should not expect anything from the government while reiterating commitment to reclaim the forest.
“The illegal settled arrears of Maasai Mau Forest must be reclaimed and restored by removing everyone there whether they have or purport to have title deeds,” said Tobiko.
“The government cannot compensate a fraudulent act, those who gave those title deeds should be held accountable but eviction will continue and no compensation will be granted”.
He told members of the Kareke Mbiuki-led committee (MP, Maara) that the forest cover risks being depleted if the government fails to carry out the evictions.
“The Maasai Mau Forest is one of the 22 blocks in the country and it is the most degraded forest and I can assure you that if a serious action is not taken, that water tower will be lost,” he outlined.
The CS further added that the second phase of evictions will commence soon with already 4, 000 families evicted from the forest.
Tobiko called on politicians to be very cautious and shun from politicizing the Mau issue saying it is not a matter of two communities and it should have nothing to do with 2022 succession politics.
While engaging the CS, the MPs also sought to know if he is a beneficiary or owns any piece of land in Mau as claimed by some media reports.
“Bwana CS there are allegations that you have properties in Mau Forest, at least that is what we have read on some media reports and on social media. Could you please tell us your stand on this issue,” Ijara MP Sophia Noor asked.
In his response, Tobiko refuted claims and termed them as hot air.
“I do not own, have never owned, applied or requested for any land in Mau or anywhere in Narok County,” he said.
Meanwhile, the MPs from the same committee pleaded with Tobiko to lift the ban on mangrove harvesting in Lamu saying it is the only source of income for over 30,000 loggers who have now been left jobless.
They said after their visit to Lamu, they established that people were unable to even feed their families and the economy in the area had worsened at a higher rate since the ban.
“Poor and vulnerable communities are really suffering, we are pleading with you Mr. CS to please consider the ban and do something about it, families have broken up, children are not going to school and this ban has caused them so much,” Kisumu Woman Representative Rossa Buyu pleaded.
After other MPs unanimously besought him on the issue, Tobiko requested for a one-month period to consult with other stakeholders and give a complete report to the committee.
In February this year, Deputy President William Ruto suspended logging in all the forests which is to be reviewed in November whether to be lifted or not.