RAILA PICKS TASKFORCE FOR MAU
Monday, July 21, 2008
BY JOSEPH MABILI
Prime Minister Raila Odinga (centre) addresses the Press on the
inauguration of the Task Force on the Mau Forest Complex at his
Treasury Building Office yesterday. He is accompanied by
Agriculture minister William Ruto (right) and Lands minister James
Orengo. PHOTO/FIDELIS KABUNYI.
THE government is likely to face a major confrontation with a
section of MPs from the Rift Valley after forming a task force to
address the controversial Mau complex settled on by thousands of
Prime Minister Raila Odinga ignored threats from a section of MPs
from the region opposed to the planned eviction of farmers
allocated land in the forest, and went ahead to form the task
force, that will among other things, work with local communities
in addressing the Mau complex issue.
The task force comprises 21 members drawn from senior officials
from relevant Ministries, representatives of stakeholders groups
and expert organizations including United Nations Environmental
Raila said the task force will first come up with terms of
reference for their duties of consultations in a period of two
weeks which would be approved by himself as well as a time frame
for the recommendations generated during the stakeholders’ forum
held a fortnight ago.
The committee will demarcate and fence off the 400,000-hectare Mau
Complex, which is the source of 12 rivers and a lifeline for
millions of people. It will further mobilise resources to restore
the complex and establish a special court to prosecute those found
involved in irregularities in the forest.
The Government has said that it will only resettle 1,960 people
who have been issued with title deeds for the land. Yesterday,
Rift Valley leaders said that the evictions should be shelved
until the affected families are compensated. Raila said the task
force will ensure no further destruction of the forest takes place
in future saying that police were under instruction to ensure this
does not happen.
On eviction, Raila said any further move will depend on the final
report of the task force saying that no eviction will take place
by the end of October as had been reported in the media."It will
ensure that no more destruction by felling trees for building and
burning of charcoal. Police have been informed and no lorry should
be seen carrying trees or charcoal from the forest."
During the inauguration of the task force in his office yesterday,
Raila said after the report immediate action will take place for
genuine people to be compensated so as to discourage impunity.Said
he: "Only genuine stakeholders will get compensation. We don’t
want to encourage impunity" . He, however, said people will be
resettled in a proper manner without infringing on their rights or
inflicting any harm on them.
The task force members include James Muhoro, Dr. Alice Kaudia,
Reuben Murugu, Ms. Lorna Odero, Nelson Wanyeki, Wilson Songa,
Patrick Oloo, George Ndegwa, Moses Ogala, D.K Mgugua, Prof. Fred
Owino, Christain Laumbrets, Dr. Lumumba Odenda, Wilson Soi, Joseph
Ole Karia, Shadrack Ole Rotikeni, Josha Koskei, Clement Kariuki,
Charles Sena, Hassan Noor and Prof. Julian Bauer.
The team will refer to the outcomes and recommendations made
during the consultative forum that took place on 15th of this
month. The secretariat will be based at UNEP offices with its
chairman appointed from Ministry of Forest and Wildlife
During the forum it was resolved that squatters move out by the
end of October or be evicted from the forest.At the launch of the
task force, Raila was accompanied by ministers William Ruto (Agriculture),
James Orengo (Lands) and Rift Valley PC Hassan Noor, and MP Issac
Ruto among others.Raila said the government is committed to
protecting water catchment areas across the country including
Chulyu Hills, Mt. Marsabit, Mt. Elgon among others.
An earlier effort by the Premier to resolve the controversy was
resisted by ten Members of Parliament from the expansive Rift
Valley rubbishing the resolutions reached during a Mau
Stakeholders Forum. The MPs vowed to use all the available legal
avenues to resist eviction accusing the government and Prime
Minister Raila Odinga of using the Mau complex issue to "deliberately
persecute" members of the Kalenjin community.
The legislators opposed to evictions include Isaac Ruto (Chepalungu),
Joshua Kutuny (Cherangany), Elijah Lagat (Emgwen), Lagat Makerer (Kipkelion),
Benjamen Lagat (Ainamoi), Dr. Julius Kones (Konoin), Lucas Kigen (Rongai),
Sammy Mwaita (Baringo Central), Moses Lesonet (Eldama Ravine) and
Peris Simam (Eldoret South).
Cabinet Minister William Ruto and Henry Kosgey are the latest to
join the fray and have called for soberness in dealing with the
Mau crisis. "We do not want a repeat of the 2005 incident when
settlers in Mau forest incurred huge losses after the government
evicted them," said Mr. Ruto.
The MPs have questioned the sincerity of the Government, arguing
that some communities such as the Ogiek considered the forest
their ancestral land. They said the evictees should be shown where
they will be settled before they are moved. The legislators said
that although they were not opposed to the conservation of the Mau
forest, they did not want the government to create more internally
displaced persons through the evictions.
They further said that a proposal to the meeting that a proper and
comprehensive negotiated programme touching on the resettlement of
those to be evicted from the Mau complex be put in place was
The Chepalungu MP has also sought for a ministerial statement from
the PM demanding to know whether adequate consultations has been
done with communities affected and steps that will be taken to
compensate them should they be evicted.
Thousands of squatters living in Mau Forest have been ordered to
vacate by October as part of measures by the government to restore
Kenya’s biggest water catchment area. He promised a constitution
of a task force following disagreements. Among other things the
task force will demarcate and fence 400,000 hectare Mau Complex
which is the source of 12 rivers and a lifeline for millions of