By Wanjiru Macharia and Paul Jimbo
Over 500 members of the Ogiek community on Wednesday demonstrated against their eviction from Nkaretta Forest in Mau East, Narok District.
Chanting slogans against the Provincial Administration, they claimed the forest was their ancestral home and nobody had the right to evict them.
Their bid to burn a bulldozer bearing GK registration numbers which was ferrying trees was thwarted by Administration Police officers.
Led by chairman Samuel Kumakei, they decried the massive destruction of the forest, saying the activities would render them homeless.
Kumakei accused the Provincial Administration of colluding with a private developer (name withheld) who was encroaching on the forest.
He said the more than 5,000 Ogieks living in the forest would have nowhere to go.
Kumakei wondered how the developer got a GK bulldozer to ferry trees under police protection and appealed to the Minister for Environment and Natural Resources to intervene.
However, Narok District Commissioner John Egesa denied the existence of the Ogiek in the forest.
He accused some residents of encroaching on the forest after selling their land and later using the Ogiek as scapegoats.
Egesa said the Government would flush out all people living in the forest illegally.
He said the excision was not illegal since the Government was planning to settle landless people on 6,000 acres of the forest.
Meanwhile, the Government is set to evict more than 80 families living in Mashuru and Singaraine water catchment areas in Kajiado District.
District Commissioner Kenneth Lusaka said yesterday plans had been finalised to evict the families which had encroached on gazetted forest zones.
Lusaka said the evictions would also be carried out in Ngong and Namanga hills. The Government settled some 500 families in Ngong in 1997 and restricted any human activities beyond 400 metres uphill.
He said some residents were engaged in charcoal burning and some had cleared huge tracts of land in the forests for cultivation purposes.
He imposed a ban on sand harvesting at the Mashuru and Kenya Marble Quarry areas in the district.
Uhuru Ni Haki
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