New settlers moving into Mau,
By LUCAS BARASA and JAMI MAKAN
Wednesday, July 23 2008
Thousands of people are trooping into Mau forest with the hope of
benefiting from the planned Government resettlement of illegal
farmers, Maasai leaders claimed on Tuesday.
Heritage and Culture minister William ole Ntimama warned that his
community would not sit back and watch as Mau, the biggest water
catchment in the region, is destroyed.
“We are not cowards. We will defend our rights...We have kept
quiet because we are law-abiding citizens,” Mr Ntimama said.
Addressing journalists at his Kencom House office in Nairobi, Mr
Ntimama who was flanked by MPs Nkoidila ole Lankas (Narok South)
and Gideon Konchella (Kilgoris) urged the Government to
immediately secure Mau forest otherwise, he says, “there will be
no tree left standing in the next 90 days.”
People living in Mau have until October to vacate. The Government
has also that it will only resettle 1,960 people with title deeds.
However, according to the minister, large groups of new settlers
are moving into the forest to cash in on the impending
The legislators, who were accompanied by three councillors and
other leaders, said that rivers with their sources in Mau were
drying up, affecting pastoralists and wildlife in Kajiado, Narok
Mr Lankas demanded that the Government acts fast and stops the
movement of people into the 400,000-hectare Mau Complex. The ODM
MP said that only those with title deeds should be allowed to stay
as they await resettlement.
Mr Konchella of PNU called for the fencing of Mau Complex to stop
any further encroachment.
The former Cabinet minister also asked the Government to deploy
the police and forest guards to prevent people from entering the
Mr Konchella said a task force formed to help address problems
facing Mau should also find ways of stopping destruction of Trans
In an apparent reference to Kipsigis community leaders opposed to
the planned evictions, Mr Ntimama said it was unfortunate that the
issue had been politicised and ethnicised.
But the three leaders hailed Mr Odinga’s efforts to secure and
protect the forest and supported Monday’s formation of a task
force to address the Mau dispute.
Separately, the Kalenjin Students Association also supported
efforts by Mr Odinga to restore Mau.
The students said that it was wrong for some Rift Valley MPs to
oppose the restoration of Mau for the benefit of future
At the same time, the United Nations Environmental Programme has
said that more than $300 million (about Sh20 billion) worth of
tea, tourism and energy could be lost if the Mau Complex continued
to be degraded and destroyed.
Unep Executive Director Achim Steiner said that the body has been
documenting continued destruction and erosion of the Mau ecosystem
for the past few years.