NATIONALNEWS

Settlers in Mau’s Sierra Leone now flee impending evictions

Residents of Sierra Leone settlement in the 46,000-hectare Masai Mau forest land are racing against time to hand in their title deeds to the government for verification.

By yesterday afternoon, a few had complied, with only a day remaining to the deadline issued by Narok County Commissioner George Natembeya for them to hand in the documents to his office.

Natembeya  said the verification would determine the number of those who have genuine claim over land in the settlement before eviction starts.

A prominent family in Narok sold about 9,000 acres to the  soldiers returning from a peacekeeping mission in Sierra Leone back in 2002.

But most of them are fleeing, fearing that evictions will start after the verification exercise.

“We don’t want to be caught flat footed like in the previous evictions,” said Kipteigok arap Ruto, who bought seven acres of land in the area in 2003.

Environmental conservation groups say it will be difficult for the joint security personnel to effectively police the forest if the settlement is left.

“The settlement should be removed and all routes sealed to secure it,” said Mau Conservation Trust chairman Jackson Kamoe.

Secure section

Natembeya said the exercise to secure the section of the Mau Complex was on course and denied reports that security personnel were using force in kicking settlers out.

“About 90 per cent has been secured. All settlers moved out voluntarily. Some went back and burnt their former houses to portray that force was being applied,” he said.

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