28 June 2005

Kenya: Sh100m Needed to Rehabilitate Forest

Nairobi — Narok County Council needs Sh100 million to rehabilitate depleted sections of the Maasai Mau Forest.

The southern part of the forest is currently at the centre of a political and humanitarian crisis following the eviction of settlers.

Narok Town Clerk Stanislas Ondimu says the money will be used to plant seedlings to replace the indigenous trees cut to pave way for the settlers.

During an interview with The Standard, Ondimu said the council will hire 50 new guards to beef up security around and inside the forest.

"We are not taking chances. No one will be allowed back under whatever circumstances," warned council chairman, John Sayaton.

The council annually allocates Sh16 million for the maintenance of the forest, an amount Ondimu says is too little.

Interviews with some of the evicted revealed that prominent personalities in both the Narc and former Kanu governments own huge chunks of the forest.

It was claimed that a sitting Member of Parliament and a former Permanent Secretary appointed relatives to sell the land at a fortune to the squatters.

Meanwhile, Ondimu was confident that the long arm of the law will catch up with the culprits. "We shall not spare anyone... we will catch up with them and make them to account for their actions," said Ondimu.

County Council chairman John Sayaton says control points along the forest have been set up to ensure that those evicted do not return.

Commenting on the manner the eviction was carried out, Sayaton said: "The talk of eviction having lacked a human face is absolute nonsense. The squatters were given enough notice but chose to ignore it."

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