As the Mau evictions begin, the evictees who were promised protection by Jubilee politicians have regretted casting their vote for President Uhuru and DP William Ruto in 2017. They say, they have been used for votes and have now been dumped by the same politicians they thought would help and protect them from being kicked out of the forest.
Geoffrey Ng’etich one of the evictees says their leaders had abandoned them and they had no option but to leave “however painful it is”.
“Where are the people we woke up early in the morning during the last General Election to vote for?” he posed. “I want you to tell the President, his deputy and all Jubilee leaders from Rift Valley that we are of no use to them now. We pick our pieces and wait for 2022,” added a tearful Ng’etch.
Ng’etch is among smallholder farmers who used to supply fresh farm produce to Narok and Mullot.
Stanley Towett, another resident, bitterly recalled sometime between 2016 and 2017 when they had to be ferried to Nairobi to meet top Jubilee leaders who assured them that they would not be removed from their land. To their surprise, the said leaders have since gone silent.
“The leaders have abandoned us. I remember I was among 51 people who were taken to Deputy President Ruto’s residence in Karen just before election. We met him and he assured us of our stay here in the Mau. President Uhuru Kenyatta also assured us of our stay but we are here suffering, where did we go wrong?” Towett said.
Towett claimed Ruto visited Sierra Leone with Narok Governor Samuel Tunai and assured them that they would not be evicted.
“Ruto said our issues had been addressed and we clapped and stood with him. Tunai also took us to a hotel in Naivasha where he told us things had been streamlined and what remained was we assure him of our support,” he said.Towett’s Sh500,000 investment at the centre is no more.The Government had issued a directive to the settlers to leave the Mau Forest but most of them adopted a wait and see approach. Some of them carted away their families and belongings but waited to see if the eviction order would be effected.
The demolitions that started last Friday caught many settlers by surprise.As women and children fled the area, men rummaged through the rubble to recover building materials.
“We are being moved out, none of us is leaving voluntarily. The demolition you are seeing is by force, officers sent here have been moving around since Friday, kicking our shops and telling us to demolish them,” said Simeon Lelei.Lelei wondered whether the 60 days ultimatum the Government issued through Rift Valley Regional Commissioner George Natembeya had expired.“It is like the 60 days notice has expired without our knowledge. The Government promised a humane eviction but what we are now seeing is brutality and destruction of property,” he said.Leonard Lang’at, who operated a lodge, shop and a hotel, said he had suffered huge loss.“I invested over Sh1 million at the centre and I was making a return of not less than Sh80,000 a month. All that is now gone!” he said, watching pensively at the rubble that was once his business.Bernard Bett who owned a barber shop and retail outlet said he closed it due to frustrations.“He lost investment valued at Sh200,000. I do not know what to do next,” said Bett.His neighbour Catherine Bett, a mother of eight, said her shop was broken into and clothes stolen.Ms Bett alleged that police officers deployed there were looting the shops before bringing down the buildings.Rift Valley Regional Commissioner, however, denied the claims.Mr Natembeya said residents of Sierra Leone are cooperative but those in Kipchoge, Kitoben and Kass FM are trying to resist.”You cannot resist and we have allowed you time to leave peacefully,” said Natembeya.He said those with crops will be allowed time to go back and harvest and that the officers are manning the crops.He said some people were financing the resistance, adding that after an officer was shot at Kass FM, one person was arrested with Sh180,000.
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