Members of the Tachoni Community are protesting the gazettement of 406 .22 hectares of land (1003.24 acres ) in Chetambe Hills as forest reserve.
Led by Ndivisi Ward MCA Martin Wanyonyi Pepela, the locals termed as “nonsense” Environment CS Keriako Tobiko’s move to gazette the land as a forest.
Through legal notice number 102, the forest conservation and management act number 34 of 2016, Environment CS Keriako Tobiko declared Chetambe (Webuye) Hill Forest a public forest.
“In exercise of the powers conferred by section 31(2) of the forest conservation and management Act; the cabinet Secretary for Environment and Forestry declares that the area described in the schedule hereto be a forest area” Tobiko said in the gazette notice dated 25th June 2021.
Tobiko gazetted an area of land approximately 406 .22 hectares which is 1003.24785 acres situated approximately 25 kilometers East of Bungoma town, Bungoma County , the boundaries of which are more particularly delineated, edged green , on the boundary plan number 175/512 which is signed and sealed with a seal of Survey of Kenya and deposited at the Survey Records office , Survey of Kenya , Nairobi and a copy of which may be inspected at the office of the Ecosystem Conservator Bungoma and Kenya Forest Service Headquarters , Nairobi.
Addressing the locals, Wanyonyi said they are saddened by President Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration whereby his appointees led by CS Tobiko are “annexing their ancestral land”
“Our forefathers lived here. They were buried here. Now telling us that this area is not ours is quite inhuman and unfair. We will not agree,” Wanyoyi said.
The local leaders added that consultations were not carried out and that the CS should have conducted public participation and be told which areas to gazette.
They wondered where Tobiko will take the hundreds of people who will be evicted from the forest reserve.
“We must be united as Webuye East Leaders and tell Tobiko and President Kenyatta to stop this nonsense. Let them go do it in Mau Forest or another place. We will not agree to that nonsense,” Wanyonyi addressed the charged residents.
The Ward rep said the National Government has a scheme to reduce the number of people in Webuye East, reduce the land mass and take away their constituency on the pretext that they are few.
He said that the Tachonis are a minority in Bungoma County and that they will not accept to be marginalized and lose Webuye East constituency.
Several politicians from Western Kenya, businessmen, prominent personalities, and hundreds of locals will lose once KFS moves in and evicts the “encroachers”.
In October 2018, CS Tobiko while on a tour of Sang’alo Technical Institute in Bungoma, warned that all those who have encroached on Forest land in Chetambe Hills will be evicted.
The CS said no one will be spared irrespective of his social status.
He said several people were visiting the Environment Ministry with fake title deeds seeking help to have them legalized.
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