State may alter Eastern Mau cutline to end settler conflicts - Beaking Kenya News

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Tuesday, 6 October 2020

State may alter Eastern Mau cutline to end settler conflicts


The government is considering extending the Eastern Mau forest boundary to accommodate warring settlers.

Rift Valley regional coordinator George Natembeya said on Friday the government was trying to accommodate all the settlers.

“We will try and adjust the cutline to accommodate everybody. We will have a Cabinet paper before matters are taken to the National Assembly,” he said.

Natembeya said, "The boundary is not cast in stone.”

He said the land registry should be closed because people were trying to beat the system in a "frenzy", getting title deeds backdated to 1977.

The forest was declared a forest reserve April 1941  before it was declared a central forest reserve in 1964.

For years, it has been rocked by violence due to historical land injustices and negative ethnicity.

When it was being declared a central forest reserve, it covered 160,639 acres.

Following the intensified violence, the government in August formed a multi-agency team to save the water tower and end recurrent ethnic clashes and evictions.

The team is seeking to resolve the Eastern Mau land problem that has resulted in evictions, deaths, destruction of property, ethnic clashes and displacement of thousands of families.

Initially, the team had been tasked with creating clear boundaries between settlement schemes and the forestland.

However, this demarcation has been abandoned after residents objected.

The CS for lands  should close the registry. There is frenzy, people have brand new title deeds claiming that they had kept it with their lawyers,” Natembeya said.

Rift Valley regional coordinator George Natembeya 

The team is currently carrying out an audit to establish the number of people with genuine and ownership documents with a view to resettling them.

Those living in ecologically sensitive areas could be given alternative land as one way of protecting the water tower.

This will involve carrying out an environmental impact assessment study.

The regional coordinator said everything must be done carefully and legally.

He said people were getting land ownership documents to try and beat the system.

“The Cabinet Secretary for lands should close the registry. There is frenzy, people have brand new title deeds claiming that they had kept them with their lawyers,” Natembeya said.

Retired government officials were still signing land ownership documents and backdating them to 1997, he said.

Natembeya said President Uhuru Kenyatta wants the issue solved before the end of the year.

The Eastern Mau block is the source of Mara River, whose source is Enapuyapuyi wetlands in Kiptunga/ Marishoni forest station.

The Mara River basin and ecosystem is a world-famous site for viewing the spectacular wildebeest migration.

The other rivers emanating from the forest block include the Molo, Njoro, Rongai, Nessuit, Makalia and Enderit, which feed Nakuru and Baringo.

Kenya Forest Service chief surveyor Evans Kegode said the settlements within the water tower did not adhere to the established procedures of altering forest boundaries.

Kegode said as early as 1994, the 'purported' settlements where titles were issued had commenced before the alteration of of forest boundaries.

He said the nine irregular settlements include Sururu, Likia, Teret, Nessuit, Elburgon, Mariashoni and Baraget.

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