The Narok County Commissioner (CC), Samuel Kimiti has denied claims that security personnel in Maasai Mau forest where people were evicted recently were harassing the people living on the fringes of the forest.
Speaking in his office on Wednesday, Kimiti said there were disagreements between the police and the residents because the government restricted free movement within the forest and this did not go down well with some of the residents, some of whom are evictees from the same forest.
The administrator further added that an operation was still ongoing in the forest where over 3,300 families moved out voluntarily recently and therefore they cannot allow free movement of people and this also being done to protect private property left behind in the forest.
Kimiti said the people who moved out of the forest left their crops and property behind and some people have been stealing and vandalising them.
He added that every person who wants to harvest their crops or pick any of their properties left behind in the forest must inform the area chief and be escorted in order to avoid these vices from taking place
“The reason as to why one must acquire a permission letter and accompaniment is that there are culprits who think they can take advantage of the situation and harvest crops that aren’t theirs,” he added.
Some residents living in the outskirts of Mau forest took to the streets on Tuesday over claims of police harassment that has worsened especially after Phase Two Mau eviction that saw over 3,360 households affected.
“Only eight households that were still in the forest but it’s because they are on the cutline and we are still establishing the clear boundary of the cutline,” said Kamiti
According to Kimiti, some of the reasons that have brought about these disagreements between the police and the residents is that some residents living in villages situated on the other side of Mau Forest such as Tigwet, Zaire and Kariet would have to go through a section of Mau forest in order to get home while the government is also tasked to protect food and properties of those that were evicted from the forest.
“We understand the source of the dispute, Mau forest was declared a no go zone by the government and therefore those seeking to go through must be questioned by the police,” Kimiti said.
He further added that they were having sittings with those residents in order to find an amicable solution over the dispute that included an alternative route to their homes.
On a different issue but still touching on Mau forest, the County Commissioner urged residents living in Nkaretta whose land is alleged to be on the forest cutline to be patient as the government looks into the matter.
He said meetings were going on involving Kenya Water Towers, Survey of Kenya, Land Adjudicators and the ministry of interior in order to find solutions over the boundary issues in the area.
The CC said that justice would prevail at the end of the day as borderline disputes will be resolved and those whose land will be found to have extended into the forest found will have to move.
By Mabel Keya Shikuku