Over 100 illegal settlers trooping out of the Maasai Mau Forest have for the last seven days surrendered land documents in their possession to government administrators in Narok South Sub-county.
Speaking during a meeting with village elders from Sagamian, Sierra Leon, Tendwet and Enkaroni in his office on Tuesday, Narok South Deputy County Commissioner Felix Kisalu confirmed receiving the documents from people who had been duped into buying forest land by unscrupulous brokers, leaders in past regimes and land officials.
“In the past seven days, 100 people have surrendered their land ownership documents including title deeds and sale agreements. We expect more this week as we have realised that several of these settlers have the same copy of a title deed since they bought the land as a group,” said Mr Kisalu.
He added that the government has issued a black book to chiefs and their assistants to receive and register land documents within their areas of jurisdiction.
“We need to have records of who duped you to buy the land. We will have a mechanism of holding them responsible for their deeds and they be made to return your money,” said Mr Kisalu.
The administrator announced that out of the 3,200 households targeted for eviction, about 1,000 are yet to move out.
He hailed the settlers for moving out voluntarily and taking a bold move to surrender the documents and called on the rest to follow suit before the start of phase two of the evictions in October 25.
“We have already issued the notice. I want to tell those who have any land documents, be it a sale agreement or a title deed, to bring them to my office. As for those who have no documents and are still in the forest, let them vacate immediately before the 60 days deadline,” Mr Kisalu said.
He issued a stern warning to those in possession of fake title deeds saying they will be charged with forgery.
The government gave a 60-day notice for illegal occupants to willingly vacate the forest or face forceful eviction and so far, according to the Rift Valley Regional Coordinator George Natembeya, 70 percent of the settlers have moved out with less than 40 days left.
Kenya Forest Service rangers and officers from the Rapid Deployment Unit are stationed in the disputed 17,000 acres of the forest land that the government wants to reclaim and are overseeing the voluntarily movement of the settlers.
The government has also promised to assist those who have no means of moving their belongings do so.
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