The Elgeyo Marakwet governor, Alex Tolgos has termed the landslides experienced in the county every time it rains as “man-made disasters” and called on residents along the escarpment to take the responsibility of planting trees.
Governor Tolgos said the escarpment has over the years experienced wanton destruction of indigenous trees which were burnt for charcoal as the land is left bare to make way for farms with people cultivating on hilly areas all the way to river banks.
He was speaking when he received donations for mudslide victims in Sambalat and Emsoo from various AIC churches in Nakuru and Marakwet professionals who donated food stuff, beddings and utensils.
Tolgos said even as victims called on the government to intervene, they should know that they have the cardinal responsibility of ensuring that they conserve the environment.
He added that those cultivating on road reserves would be prosecuted noting that the practice was common along Iten-Kabarnet and Iten-Kapsowar-Embobut road saying once it rained, all the soils are deposited on the roads cutting off transport.
“Both the Kenya Highways Authority (Kenha) and Kenya Rural Roads Authority (Kerra) have clearly put beacons on the roads and we are urging residents to respect them before we catch up with them,” he warned.
The governor said he has held talks with the Ministry of Environment on the relocation of people living along the escarpment so that it could be gazzeted as a forest to prevent future disasters but says before that happens, people should take personal responsibility of protecting their lives and properties by conserving the environment.
The governor also called on the national government to ensure that all squatters evicted from government forests are compensated and resettled saying if this is not done, they would continue cultivating along the escarpment.
“Those evicted from Embobut forest have continued living along the edge of the forest where they continue with farming activities which risk their lives and those of people living in the valley,” he said.
The governor said there were major cracks in parts of Keiyo South Sub County and called on residents to move to safer areas.
By Alice Wanjiru