Members of the Nakuru District Ex-Freedom Fighters Organization (NDEFFO) have petitioned the state to reschedule demarcation and beaconing of a parcel of land they occupy in Njoro to pave way for consultations.
Through their spokesperson, Mugi Kimere, the members faulted Kenya Forest Service (KFS) for initiating the process without involving members of the community, who he said had received land ownership documents and occupied the parcel for decades.
“We are appealing to President Uhuru Kenyatta to intervene and address the protracted dispute between KFS and locals. This will restore calm and reassure the residents that their rights to land ownership will not be infringed.
National government officials and Kenya Forest Service need to involve members of the community to allay fears that powerful barons are out to grab the land,” he stated.
He maintained that the over 500 members of NDEFFO have been living in the area bordering forest reserve since the 1960s and now fear that the move may see them displaced.
“We are in the dark as to why area administrators such as chiefs, local leaders and Njoro Deputy County Commissioner were not informed of the exercise.
Breakdown of communication has led many to conclude that those carrying out the demarcation and beaconing are land grabbers who want to benefit from the process,” claimed Mr. Kimere.
Mwangi Wanyambugi on his part stated that locals were unhappy with the process as their views had not been considered.
He cautioned some unnamed public servants to stop misusing the name of top government officials to intimidate locals and make attempts to expropriate their land.
“We have title deeds and we are going nowhere. We do not want people to tarnish names of credible and incorruptible government officials for their own private gain.
NDEFFO members will shame state officers using names of top government officials in their attempts to grab our land,” he affirmed.
Similar sentiments were echoed by Ndeffo Land Buying Company Limited’s officials led by Director Joseph Macharia and Secretary Charles Mbugua.
The duo made an appeal to President Uhuru Kenyatta to visit the area and cool the tension by ensuring that they are not evicted.
“Since we came to this place in the 1960s, it has never been a forest. But now people are coming with beacons claiming that we are on forest land. We appeal to the President to come to our rescue” said Macharia.
However, when contacted for a comment via phone, Rift valley Regional Commissioner George Natembeya assured locals that no one will be evicted despite a survey showing that they had invaded forest land.
He was quick to note that the area in tussle will be re-gazetted and the boundaries formalized.
“Let them be assured that no genuine individual who bought land in the area shall be evicted. There is a multi-agency team in the area to look at issues of boundaries,” he said.
By Jane Ngugi