More Maasai leaders oppose removal of a section of Mau to settle squatters
08 April 2016, 17:23
Narok - A section of leaders from Maasai Community have continued to oppose the recent Cabinet decision to excise 17,000 hectares of the Maasai Mau forest to settle squatters.
Narok Women Representative Soipan Kudate expressed concern over the controversial decision by the cabinet, saying the forest was critical for the survival of millions of people, animals and by extension the tourism sector in the region.
Speaking to the News24, Mrs Kudate said the country was far from achieving its goal of 10 percent forest cover and continued encroachment on the forest will only serve to make the bad situation worse.
“We are perturbed by this move. The government ought to tighten its noose on illegal encroachment on the Mau forest and come up with a better and workable plan to settle the landless other than destroy lives of millions of people,” said the legislator.
Another group led by Olkurto MCA Kuntai Ole Kool, former Narok Town Council Chairman M Kelena Ole Nchoe, Mara North Conservancy chairman Francis Ole Nkoitoi and Friends of Mau Secretary Joseph Ole Karia said the community will not allow the excision of the forest which supports livelihoods of millions of people and animals in Kenya and Tanzania.
They termed the intended excision as a threat to environment and peace from the region and threatened to hold demos in the area against this move.
Nchoe said that the government should come clean on the matter as it might cause unnecessary tension between the communities living in the area.
He called on the government to clarify the decision saying that the community was not involved in the decision to excise the section of the forest.
The reaction comes after the cabinet through cabinet secretary Jacob Kaimenyi led Lands Ministry proposed that the part of the land will be issued to resettle squatters displaced from the forest.
But Environment Cabinet Secretary Prof Judy Wakhungu recently clarified that the proposal to excise 17,000 hectares was yet to passed and if passed will be used to settle all squatters who were evicted from forests around the country.
“Mau forest is the biggest forest in East Africa with many rivers, wildlife depending on it. The cabinet decision to excise the 17,000 hectares which is close to 40,000 acres of Mau has shocked us. Maasai Mau is a community land and we don’t know what the government is talking about,” said Kool.
On his part, Nkoitoi called upon on the government to stop using Mau forest as abait every time elections beckon, saying it was engaging in politics at the expense of environment and thousands of community members who depend of the forest for their livelihoods.
However, he urged the parliament to reject the proposal once it is brought before the House saying that approving the proposal would be tantamount to approving the forest to be destroyed.
Karia said that the Mau Forest was an important resource to the pastoralist community saying that the Maasai community members have thousands of squatters that are yet to be resettled by the government.
“Who are these people that the government want to resettle here and what criteria was used to identify them. We need the forest to be conserved for future generations,” lamented Karia.
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