Sunday, August 2, 2009



Friday, July 31 2009

The 2,500 illegal settler-families in the Mau Forest Complex have three months to surrender their title deeds to the government.

If they do not heed the directive agreed by the Cabinet on Thursday, they will be evicted as the government moves to save Kenya’s largest water tower, Prime Minister Raila Odinga said in a statement on Friday.

An interim secretariat to enforce the decision will be established, said the PM. It will serve for two years.

The latest move comes only three days after 49 companies and individuals — including public figures — were named in a list of allottees of the forest, whose destruction has resulted in widespread environmental havoc and public alarm.

Among those said to have benefited are MPs Sammy Mwaita and Zakayo Cheruiyot, former Baringo MP Gideon Moi and Mr John Lokorio, a former State House comptroller.

The Catholic church was also named as one of the biggest beneficiaries.

Mr Odinga’s statement summarised the collective agreement of the Cabinet meeting chaired by President Kibaki at State House, Nairobi.

On Friday, Mr Odinga declared that the government will revoke all title deeds that had been illegally issued, whether in the settlement schemes or in the Mau forest.

But those with bona fide deeds and were currently residing in “critical water catchment areas” and “biodiversity hotspots” will be resettled elsewhere.

The exercise is likely to cost the government more than Sh37 billion.

Said Mr Odinga: “We shall revoke all title deeds that were not issued in line with the stated purposes of the settlement schemes or titles issued in critical water catchment areas.

“We shall, however, compensate third party purchasers for value where applicable.”
The PM also announced that the government had banned, with immediate effect, the allocation of forest land in the country.

He said plans to reclaim more than 4,010 hectares of forest land that were excised in 2001 were underway, adding the reclaimed land would revert back to the government.

Also resolved at Thursday’s meeting was the establishment of a joint security enforcement unit to protect the Mau as the government starts surveying, demarcating and issuing title deeds for the 22 blocks in the complex.

Other highlights of the Cabinet’s decision were:

1.Identify funds for purchase of land for resettlement or compensation of all bona fide settlers in the complex.

2.Commence tree planting activities in open spaces in the Mau and local people to be involved through the Kazi Kwa Vijana programme.

3.Civic education to start to create awareness on the need to conserve the complex. Community forest associations that will work with the government on this programme to be identified.

4.Set up conflict resolution mechanisms to address conflict arising from use of natural resources management.

5.Fast-track reforms in the forestry sector and develop an integrated restoration and management plan.

6.Delineate and gazette all critical water catchment areas in the Mau Forest Complex and institute their management according to the Water Act (2002).

7.Develop an investment document and convene a conference to mobilise adequate resources.

8.Produce an information kit to inform and raise awareness and convene a consensus building forum for Members of Parliament and community representatives.