A section of Maasai Council of elders want the government to issue an official stand on the lifting of the caveat on Mau – Narok forest, failure to which they will move to court to stop the implementation.
Led by former Transport and Licensing Board (TLB) Chairman Mr. Hassan Ole Kamwaro and former Narok County Council Chairman Mr. Kelena Ole Nchoe, the elders said the community has been puzzled by recent statement by Deputy President William Ruto and Narok Governor Samuel Tunai on the lifting of caveat that barred squatters from settling in the 360,000-acre forest land.
“It is painful for our leaders to allow people settle in the forest without consulting the whole community,” said Kamwaro.
Kamwaro recommended that the government set aside funds to compensate all the squatters in the forest so that the issue can be resolved once and for all.
“The government compensated squatters in other parts of the forest such as Embobut in Elgeyo-Marakwet and Aberdare in Central Kenya; why should it not do the same in the Narok – Mau forest,” questioned Kamwaro.
The elders who were speaking to the press on Wednesday at a Narok Hotel said the Mau forest was a key water tower on which the wildlife in the world-famous Maasai Mara National Game Reserve depends.
“This forest is not only of national but international significance. It is the source of 12 rivers among them River Mara where the ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’, the annual Wildebeests’ Migration occurs,” Kamwaro added.
Nchoe faulted the leaders of playing politics with the Mau issue saying the forest was more important than any individual.
“We have noted with concern some leaders in government are playing politics with the Mau issue. It is the responsibility of the government to protect the forest,” said Nchoe.
Nchoe said should the government fail to address the issue with the urgency it deserved; the elders will be forced to seek legal redress.
Their sentiments follow Deputy President’s announcement on the lifting of caveat on the 360,000-acre Narok-Mau forest when he visited Sogoo area in Narok South Sub County two weeks ago.
Last week, Governor Tunai reiterated the utterances, adding the National Government had given Sh. 1 million to build a school in the area to enable the children go to school with ease.
Tunai alleged that National Super Alliance (NASA) presidential candidate Raila Odinga planned for the eviction of the squatters from the forest when he was in government.
“As long as I am the governor of Narok, no one will be evicted from the forest. You can start building your houses day and night and I assure you no one will interfere with you again,” he said.