November 11, 2009
Tension in Mau as evictions begin
Written By:Zippy Njeri
Prime Minister Raila Odinga says for the government to achieve the much sought 10 per cent forest cover of the total land mass, rehabilitation of forests and increased planting of trees is crucial.
Speaking at a conference on the preparation for the Copenhagen Climate Change conference, Raila said the evictions of settlers in the Mau will proceed as planned but in phases.
The Prime Minister said the government has launched an aggressive campaign to restore all the water towers in the country and this will involve the relocation of hundreds of thousands of people from forests to other areas adding that this will be done in phases.
The PM's remark came as tension built up in Mau Forest with the Ogiek Community planning to get a court injunction against the eviction exercise until they harvest their crops.
The eviction exercise is currently on following the expiry of the two week notice by the government.
The government on Monday sent hundreds of security officers to the South Western Mau, the first part of the 400,000 hectare forest set to be cleared of settlers.
Failure by the settlers to heed the Government notice could complicate work for the Mau secretariat, which intends to complete the reclamation of the water tower by the first week of December.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Interim Coordinating secretariat on Mau, Hassan Noor Hassan on Tueday said the first and second phases of relocation from the south west Mau complex and which involves areas that were illegally encroached into, will see 19000 hectares of the forest land reclaimed and restored before the first week of December this year.
He reiterated the government's stand of not using force to relocate the occupants, and said many have heeded the vacate call and have started moving out of the gazette forest land.
The secretariat boss said the committee has started strategizing for the next three phases which will involve areas that were excised for settlement and where genuine title deeds were issued.
He urged members of the press to report correctly and responsibly saying most of the targeted areas for relocation in the first two phases were not settlement areas as reported by a section of the press, but gazette forest land that was encroached into illegally.