Tobiko clashes with legislators over Mau

Mercy Mwai @wangumarci

Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko yesterday clashed with the National Assembly’s Environment Committee over the ongoing Mau Forest evictions.

Tobiko’s declaration that the people being evicted would not be compensated because they hold fake title deeds angered the MPs, especially those from Rift Valley, who demanded that he withdraws the statement.

The CS, who had appeared before the committee, was confronted by the MPs, including Hilary Kosgei (Kipkelion West), Ronald Tonui (Bomet Central), Dominic Koskei (Sotik) and Beatrice Kones (Bomet East), who accused him of being insensitive.

Koskei told the CS he could not authoritatively declare the title deeds as fake yet they were given by the government,  claiming that the evictions are meant to disenfranchise a certain community of political power. “There is no community that produces titles on its own. They are given by the government,” he said.

“Why should the officers on the ground burn houses, clobber people as they conduct the evictions? Isn’t there a humane way they can conduct the process?” posed Tonui.

The reactions by the legislators came after Tobiko maintained that compensating the affected families would be one way of legalising the fake title deeds and would be equal to opening a Pandora’s box.

He said 716 individuals purporting to have title deeds, 4,439 with other documents such as letters of allotment and 2,741 without any papers have been evicted from the forest.

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