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KFS targets Bomet’s tea farm in Mau

A tea plantation owned by Bomet County government is being targeted by the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) in its ongoing bid to save Mau Forest from further depletion.

The 100-hectare Embomos tea farm at Konoin, Bomet, sits on part of the land hived off from the South Western bloc of the Mau Forest, according to documents seen by People Daily.

The documents showed that the land was demarcated from the forest land in 1994 by the then Buret county council, which has been managing it, until 2013 when Konoin  constituency became part of Bomet county.

According to Bomet ecosystem conservator Francis Misonge, public land can only be given to a private entity through a Gazette notice, which he said never happened.

A letter written by Misonge to the Agriculture county executive read in part: “I wish to inform you that the parcel, R No. 19162, is a government gazetted forest on which no other development activities are allowed to take place. Only forest conservation and management by KFS is allowed.”

The letter has been copied to KFS chief conservator, head of Mau Forest conservancy and station forest manager.

Also on the spot are KFS heads of a State corporation- Nyayo Tea Zones- who sold 372 hectares of tea plantation under its management to Sinendet Multipurpose Cooperative Society illegally.

Bomet county commissioner Geoffrey Omoding, who chaired a security meeting at his office on Tuesday, said he has written to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations boss George Kinoti and the Director of Public Prosecutions Nordin Haji, asking them to investigate the sale of the forest land to private individuals.

Omoding said all officers in the Kenya Forest Service and Nyayo Tea Zones who oversaw the sale of the land would be prosecuted.

“We have given both the county government and Nyayo Tea Zones until next week to furnish us with details of how they acquired the said lands failure to which we shall move ahead to repossess them,” he said.