- The Standard
Environment CS Keriako Tobiko on Monday 13, stated that there was room for negotiations in the reclamation of Ngong Forest land by the government
Appearing before the National Assembly Committee on Environment, Tobiko maintained that the process would proceed but the government was willing to negotiate with the affected homeowners to seek a compromise.
“Let us agree on the facts first, that the titles are invalid, then negotiate on terms and conditions on the way out. At no time did we say that we are going to demolish the houses. We have no intention to do that,” Tobiko stated.
He further noted that the Ministry would review lease agreements and issue new ones noting that the gazette notice issued by then-Environment Minister Francis Lotodo in 1998 was illegal as it showed that the 132-acre section of the forest ended up in the hands of powerful individuals.
“You cannot excise forest land which is public property and give it to private individuals. The law states that any part of de-gazetted forest land must be used for public activity or amenity,” he stated.
Tobiko noted that the Ngong forest, in 1932, covered about 7,000 acres out of which only less than 1,000 acres are left.
Earlier on, while touring the forest, Tobiko explained that, if any resident failed to leave within the stipulated time, the government would begin fencing off the area connecting the Nairobi National Park with Ngong Forest and release wild animals to roam free.
Some of the affected estates include the Sun Valley Estate Phase I, Sun Valley Phase II, Sun Valley Phase III, KMA Lang’ata Estate, and Lang’ata Place.
Others are Lang’ata View Apartments, Royal Park, Forest View, Shalom estate, the Bomas of Kenya, Rowallan Scouts Camp, and St Mary’s Apartment.
"It is the policy of the government to ensure that in terms of its constitutional obligations, forestland that has been illegally acquired or encroached upon is reclaimed, conserved and protected irrespective of one's tribe, political party affiliations and one's social status," the Environment CS told the committee.
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