House team halts Tobiko sackings

Dinah Ondari @dinahondari

A parliamentary committee has asked Environment Cabinet secretary Keriako Tobiko to wait for the recommendations of the task-force on forest conservation before making any staff changes at the Kenya Forest Service.

The National Assembly committee on Environment chaired by Kareke Mbiuki (Maara) has subsequently called on the CS and the KFS board to reinstate all sacked employees until the task-force submits its report in 90 days.

“We are the ones who called upon the Executive to ban logging and we thank the government for forming the task-force. However, what we are not comfortable with is the manner in which the ministry is conducting the exercise. Bashing and kicking members of KFS out of office through roadside declarations is not acceptable,” said Mbiuki.

The legislator said the CS should give time for the team to conclude its report and make recommendations. “In case the task force finds irregularities, due diligence will follow. KFS has been completely antagonised, there has been no tree planting during the rainy season and what we are seeing is pure harassment of KFS staff,” he said.

Benjamin Washiali (Mumias East) said the committee will be touring various forests including Aberdares and Mau to assess the damage on the water towers adding that the legislators will rely on testimonies from KFS staff, some of whom have already been sent home.

“We will invite the CS to come and share with us on this issue. The people who have the information include those who have been removed from office, we want to understand the challenges they have been going through and why they have not been able to arrest the wanton destruction that were are witnessing,” said Washiali.

Hillary Kosgey (Kipkelion West) termed the sackings as unfortunate and attributed them to politics. “KFS is at a stand still, no planting of trees is going on. The move by the chairman of the KFS to sack people even without approval by the whole board amounts to impunity. Why did he take law into his own hands?” he wondered. The MPs said the only sackings they will support are those that the task-force will recommend.

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