Team to resolve Mau dispute
Story by NATION Team
21 July 2008
Prime Minister Raila Odinga is set to launch a task force to
address the Mau Complex dispute Monday, even as a section of Rift
Valley leaders vowed to resist the planned eviction of farmers
allocated land in the forest.
A press invitation from the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife to
cover the launch said that it will be held at the Treasury
Building’s boardroom at 2pm.
The task force is to, among other things, work with local
communities in addressing the Mau problems.
Two MPs from the Maasai and Kipsigis communities will sit in the
committee comprising representatives from a number of ministries
and other stakeholders.
The committee will demarcate and fence 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 involving in
irregularities in the forest.
Mr Odinga came under sharp criticism from 10 Rift Valley MPs last
week following a directive to thousands of people living in the
forest to vacate by October.
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.
Kipkelion MP Magerer Lang’at demanded that all leaders and
stakeholders be consulted: “Leaders from the region are not
opposed to the conservation of the Mau forest, but the Government
should consult the affected families,” he said.
He said alternative land to resettle the families should be found.
In Eldama Ravine, MPs Musa Sirma (Nominated), Moses Lesonnet (Eldama
Ravine) and Luka Kigen (Rongai) 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.
Environment and Wildlife minister Dr Noah Wekesa has cautioned
against politicisation of the intended evictions.
He said an inter-ministerial committee has been set up to
facilitate the resettlement of people to be evicted from the
forest, considered to be the main water catchment area for Lake
“The continued destruction of Mau forest will affect 12 rivers,”
The Kwanza MP made the remarks at a homecoming party for Eldoret
East MP Margaret Kamar.
However, MPs from Rift Valley, who included ministers William Ruto
(Agriculture) and Henry Kosgey (Industrialisation), urged the
Government to provide alternative land to the affected people.
Speaking at the same function, Mr Ruto and Mr Kosgey said it was
wrong for the Government to set an October eviction deadline
before allocating the settlers alternative land.
But Molo MP Joseph Kiuna said that Kenya would lose a great deal
in tourism revenue if the squatters were not evicted.
Stories by Lucas Barasa, Sollo Kiragu, Barnabas Bii, Wanjiru
Macharia and Simon Siele