News 2008


Mau exit deadline needs to be more realistic - Ruto



By Vitalis Kimutai

Three MPs from the South Rift region want the planned eviction of 15,000 families in Mau forest to be postponed.

Cheplaungu MP Isaac Ruto, Julius Kones (Konoin) and Benjamin Langat (Ainamoi) and political activist Lucas Kirui on Saturday said the October 30 deadline was not realistic.

“The residents should be given enough time to move out and must first be compensated,” Ruto told The Sunday Standard. He said the task force put in place recently by Prime Minister Raila Odinga to look into the Mau issue would conclude its work and present a comprehensive report until after March next year.

Dr Kones said the Government’s deadline was not realistic, and that the restoration of Mau was a monumental task, which ought to be carried out with care to avoid hurting the affected families.

“The Government deadline for the residents to move out is not feasible unless it wants to carry out a military-type operation in the area where humanitarian issues are not a concern,” Kones said.

Langat said the residents should be involved in conservation issues and donor agencies should provide them with funds and tree seedlings to plant in their farms.

“The Government should provide indigenous tree seedlings to the residents and discourage exotic ones in order to conserve water catchment areas,” Langat said.

He said the Government should be careful not to create a situation like that which happened in 2005 when 33 churches and 26 schools were burnt or brought down by security officers who evicted residents from their farms.

The Ainamoi MP wondered why President Kibaki and Raila were keen on evicting the residents by force after the Government ordered them back to their farms.