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Monday, August 13th, 2018

 

Coast schools shine in verse speaking categories

By ANTHONY NJAGI
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Schools from the Coast region dominated in the Arabic choral verse category and the Swahili ngonjera class during the ongoing Kenya Music Festival at Dedan Kimathi University on Monday.

Mbaraki Girls Secondary, Star of the Sea and Nukhat from Malindi were a cut above the rest in the Arabic verse speaking, while Mbaraki and Mvindani Girls Secondary, also from the Coast, took the top two slots in the ngonjera category. Bishop Delany School from the Rift Valley took the third position.
Ngonjera is a poetic performance featuring two performers or two groups of performers engaging in a battle of wits and rhyme and tackling any social issue. One performer poses a question and the other answers as wittily as possible.

Technical training institutes however dominated the stage during the better part of yesterday, presenting songs, dances and verses on various issues. One of the most competitive categories was a special composition verse on countering violence and extremism.

RADICALISATION

Among those who performed in the class were North Eastern National Polytechnic, Michuki Technical Training Institute of Business Studies and Nairobi Aviation.

“The category targets mostly the youth, who are more susceptible to radicalisation,” said Assistant Superintendent of Police Dennis Okadapon, explaining why the National Police Service chose the event to pass its message.

Technical institutes also performed in 2-jiajiri category, which featured special original choral verse compositions. The class, sponsored by KCB, urged the youth to diversify their work choices to business and crafts instead of focusing solely on white collar jobs.


Keriako Tobiko rules out payment for Mau evictees

By KENNEDY KIMANTHI
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The government has ruled out compensating Maasai Mau forest evictees and instead directed them to seek payment from those who sold them land.

Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko said compensating the families “is tantamount to validating an illegality”.

This recommendation is contained in an August report, which was tabled in Parliament yesterday.

According to Mr Tobiko, compensating the evictees is wrong as it would mean regarding those who bought forest land as innocent victims.

The government has declared most title deeds held by forest dwellers null and void.

Mr Tobiko said the Constitution does not extend ownership rights to property acquired illegally.

“From the evidence and the long history of the Maasai Mau issue, the people who bought the land cannot plead innocence. Liability to compensate, whether by paying money or land, cannot be the burden of the government,” the report by the Environment Ministry says.

“Illegal settlement cannot be validated/formalised because there is no basis in law and it will be detrimental to the environment and livelihoods. Those persons with purported titles must surrender them within the time given for cancellation.”

The new move is likely to set the stage for another dispute as some politicians have been demanding compensation for those residents said to have genuine title deeds.

An alternative, the leaders say, is to ignore the eviction altogether.

The ministry says 1,089 people who originally got land within the forest, excised the parcels and later sold or transferred them.

The rip-off was masterminded by powerful and prominent individuals who later disappeared.

Many people sold land in their native areas to buy plots in the Mau “because land was very cheap”.

In interviews with the Nation, the settlers said they bought land in Sierra Leone and Kipchoge areas of the forest from prominent Narok County families.

But these “original” owners are not off the hook yet, as the report recommends that they be investigated and held criminally culpable.

“They cannot argue that they were not aware this was forest land. Those who sold the land and those who bought it may be deemed to be conspirators,” the document adds.

Government officers who facilitated the fraudulent acquisition of forest land should also be held criminally culpable, the report adds.

Pressure is mounting on the government to arrest individuals who encroached on the forest before selling the land.

GENUINE TITLE DEEDS

Mr Tobiko’s report appears to overrule that of Kenya Water Towers Agency, which indicates that when verification of landowners was done in 2009, only 430 settlers had genuine title deeds.

The ongoing eviction is to pave the way for conservation of the 46,000-hectare forest, which is one of the 23 blocks of the Mau complex.

More than 40,000 settlers have refused to leave the forest.

Maasai Mau is the most threatened block of the complex.

Mr Tobiko’s report singles out encroachment, commercial charcoal burning and illegal logging as the major threats facing Masai Mau forest, whose impact has been frequent floods, droughts, reduced river flows, food shortages, poor land productivity, among others.

Encroachment started in the 1970s when the government declared five adjudication sections in the north of Olposimoru and Maasai Mau forest.

GROUP RANCHES

The adjudication of group ranches, which took place in 1999, led to the extension of boundaries, culminating in a 17,101ha in excess, according to the minister.

It later emerged that those who first bought the land divided it and sold the pieces to “outsiders” even without title deeds while some settlers got the documents.

It is this unending chain that could see thousands lose homes, property and even land they thought was legally owned.

When the boundary was created, Nyayo Tea Zone corporation planted purple tea in a 25-kilometre area.

That created a zone to separate Maasai Mau forest, under Narok County, and Olposimoru forest that is managed by the Kenya Forest Service.

But the Environment Ministry says the boundary was ill advised as it did not serve the intended purpose. It wants to do away with it.

REHABILITATION

Other recommendations include the restoration and rehabilitation of the degraded areas and fencing of the entire forest to stop grabbing.

This year’s Phase One eviction has succeeded in the removal of 2,400 settlers from Nkoben to Kass FM areas.

About 4,500 hectares have been recovered. Phase Two will be in the Sierra- Leone section, which covers 10,092ha.

The government explored three options in dealing with the forest encroachment.

WATER TOWERS

These were maintaining the status quo and formalise a excision that would see people settle on their pieces of land, compensation and removal without compensation.

The first option was considered impracticable because it would heighten the clamour for excision of encroached water towers, to the detriment of the current and future generations as well as heighten already existing tension between communities.

Compensation was ruled out because of costs and paying for illegally acquired land is unlawful.


Judiciary audit an anti-fraud strategy

By CATHERINE WAMBUI
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Over the past few weeks, the Judiciary’s Audit and Risk Management Directorate has been in the news for all the right reasons.

A good audit mechanism exists to perform two key functions. One, to find out whether the institution’s resources are being used in accordance with the procedures, and two, whether the controls are adequate to safeguard its resources.

Where there is confirmation of revenue loss, the audit department is expected to flag this to the management with clear recommendations about the steps to take against the culpable individuals and suggest controls to put in place with a view to both seeking retribution and plugging of any holes.

The media have lately been reporting about the work of the Judiciary’s Audit Directorate with revelations regarding expenditure questions that are sometimes more than 10 years old.

DISHONESTY

Indeed, we are truly proud of the manner in which the directorate has heeded Chief Justice David Maraga’s declaration of zero tolerance to dishonesty in the Judiciary.

Take the case of the forensic audit at the Milimani Law Courts, Nairobi, for example. The Chief Registrar of the Judiciary instructed that the audit be carried out following suspicions that nefarious activities were going on in the registries.

The audit directorate quickly did its checks and prepared a comprehensive report, which they presented to the Office of the Chief Registrar of the Judiciary last month.

This report, which quickly found its way to the media, revealed that court fees were being lost through the use of parallel receipt books and alteration of receipts at the registries of the Commercial and Tax Division, Civil and Family Divisions and the Environment and Land Court.

Following this discovery, the Judiciary took firm action that included suspending the officers involved and reporting the matter to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) for further investigation, arrest and prosecution.

The Judiciary has since met with the DCI investigators for briefing and presentation of evidence pertaining to the matter.

But Milimani is not the only place where the Judiciary has had problems in the cash office.

Outside Nairobi, they found culpable staff at the Makueni Law Courts, who have since been interdicted awaiting prosecution. And in Kitui, somebody is in court over the loss of Sh10 million.

The auditors are aggressively pursuing others who have failed to conform with the strict policies of zero tolerance to theft and other activities that go against the procedures.

All in all, 11 accountants from across the country have been arraigned for theft between 2016 and 2018 to answer to various charges related to economic crimes.

Following these cases, the Judiciary management took a raft of steps to not only ensure there is retribution for the non-conformances but also that similar incidents do not occur.

CASHLESS PAYMENT

The steps include strict enforcement of the cashless payment system, mainly through M-Pesa; already, 94 per cent of the courts have complied.

Besides, there is the roll-out of bold digital solutions to transform the client experience.

For instance, the Commercial Justice Sector Reforms Project, launched by the Chief Justice in May, is already turning around the way business is conducted at the Milimani Commercial Court.

It has ICT solutions that allow lawyers to file cases, pay fees and track cases from the comfort of their offices without physically visiting the courts.

Then there are the Service Charters for every court and administrative unit that spell out the services offered, cost, requirements and estimated waiting time.

A Court Fee schedule has been developed and is in use to reduce individual officers’ discretion and make processes and costs predictable and transparent.

REGISTRY MANUALS

Registry manuals are being enforced to ensure that the guidelines are clear, workflow is documented and individual officers take full responsibility for what happens on their desks.

And to ensure this, regular spot checks and inspections are the order of the day.

What we are saying is that the audit revelations we are reading about are not signs of a growing malady, but the conclusion of a comprehensive operation that will rid the Judiciary of any remnants from the pervasive culture of fraud.

It must be what Kenyans are yearning for in the management of their resources.

Ms Wambui is a deputy director of public affairs and communication at the Judiciary. [email protected]


Wilson Sossion accused of inciting school heads

By WINNIE ATIENO
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Primary school heads on Monday blamed the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) for the chaos that rocked the first day of their delegates conference over a Sh500 monthly subscription fee.

Some Kenya Primary Schools Headteachers Association (Kepsha) officials accused Knut Secretary-General Wilson Sossion of instigating the infighting between some of the delegates and their chairman Shem Ndolo. The association claimed some of the delegates were given Sh5,000 to cause trouble.

Mr Sossion, however, refuted the claims. “If an organisation engages in its own conflicts and fights, how do I come in? I don’t know what is happening, I have no idea, I have just arrived in Mombasa. I have not seen any Kepsha member,” he said.

He said he will attend the Kepsha meeting, where he is scheduled to address the teachers, on Thursday.

AMEND CONSTITUTION

Yesterday, pandemonium erupted minutes after Mr Ndolo made his remarks and called for amendments to the Kepsha constitution.

The school heads questioned how the Sh500 monthly subscription fee is used and called for a reduction. The association raised the fees from Sh100 to Sh500 last year.

kesha chaosKepsha chairman Shem Ndolo (seated) after chaos. PHOTO | LABAN WALLOGA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

“Chapter 6 is on office bearers, membership and elections. The Kepsha constitution stated that it will be reviewed every 10 years,” Mr Ndolo said. But the delegates were opposed to the amendments, saying: “We won’t move forward until you tell us how you spent the money.”

Mr Ndolo termed the demand nonsensical, angering the headteachers, with some walking towards the dais. Others threw bottles and sprinkled water on the table where Mr Ndolo and other officials were seated, demanding an apology.

NDOLO APOLOGISED

After an intervention, Mr Ndolo apologised to the delegates, but his pleas fell on deaf ears. He was whisked away to a room to allow the tension to cool down as the headteachers called for his impeachment.

kesha chaosTeachers react after kepsha chairman Shem Ndolo dismissed their opposition, criticism and quit calls as “nonsense”. PHOTO | LABAN WALLOGA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

The association uses the fees to run its affairs. It has a membership of 23,000 delegates, meaning it collects more than Sh11 million monthly if each pays Sh500.

In a separate interview with journalists, Mr Ndolo said he will not heed to the calls by some of the disgruntled members to quit. “My presentation was acknowledged by the teachers, but my deputy went to the dais and provoked the members,” Mr Ndolo said.

On the monthly deductions, Mr Ndolo said it was a resolution passed during last year’s meeting. “Why are they revisiting the issue? Somebody must have poisoned their minds,” he said.

Additional Reporting by Matilda Ikidii


Local solutions for global climate change

By LOICE KIPKIROR
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Climate change may be described as a shift from norm of weather patterns over a region or the whole earth characterised by variations in the statistical characteristics of weather elements.

Theoretically, Man and climate have synchronously evolved over time, each affecting the other so that human civilisations and the climate of the earth have changed several times.

About 2.6 million years ago, for instance, the earth experienced its first Ice Age and about 133,000 BC, tropical Africa had its first extreme drought.

The current warm climate of Earth — known as global warming — started about 1800 AD, the same time as the Industrial Age, and its effects have been escalating.

These include sudden weather swings, extreme droughts, excessive rainfall, superabundant floods, rise in the level of the sea, melting of glaciers and the break-out of strange plant, animal and human diseases.

GLOBAL PROBLEM

Global warming is a global problem with many natural causes. There is little Man can do about its natural causes; we can only annul its anthropogenic causes by working towards an apex of ‘climate stabilisation’.

Families can exercise proper waste disposal, plant flowers and trees in their compounds, construct live hedges and reduce their atmospheric aerosol contribution through clean energy use and maintenance of machines.

Communities should establish wood lots, ensure proper waste disposal, rid swamps and river valleys of rotting vegetable matter, curb deforestation, protect forests, plant cover crops and ensure each member does their bit to constraint the emission of greenhouse gases.

ACT ON TREATIES

Nationally, climate-related treaties must be acted upon. These include the 2016 Paris Agreement, whose long-term goal is to keep the global average temperature below 20 degrees Celcius above pre-industrial levels and to limit the increase to 1.50°C.

Nations must, therefore, conserve their forests, rack up forest restoration, orchestrate enthusiastic afforestation, ostracise charlatans who derail climate change management and implement stringent waste management policies, especially for towns, more so in Africa.

They should also ensure that their industries exercise purification of waste gases before sending them up tall stacks into the atmosphere. Some of the industrial waste gases, like water vapour and carbon dioxide, can be harvested or recycled.

GLOBAL ACTION

More investment should be directed at development, distribution and use of clean energy and citizens goaded towards the use of public transportation as opposed to self-driven vehicles. Infrastructure for faster public transportation should be put in place alongside cycling lanes to inspire use of bicycles.

When all that snowballs to global action, global warming will be squashed and humanity will not experience Nick Bostrom’s last leg of existential risks — the ‘Big Bang’, where humanity is expected to live itself into oblivion.

Dr Kipkiror, an environmental consultant and lead expert in environmental/social impact assessment, is a lecturer at the School of Arts and Social Sciences, the University of Kabianga. [email protected]


Immoral bribe takers must not be allowed to derail graft purge

By MACHARIA GAITHO
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This is one worth repeating. A thoroughly inebriated man sidled up to an extravagantly coutured and bejewelled beauty at the bar counter. “Would you sleep with me for a hundred shillings?” he asked.

“How dare you … you think I’m that cheap?” Her Haughtiness asked in shock and outrage. The drunk looked at her knowingly with a wicked smirk. “No. But now that the principle is established, how much will you charge?”

I recall this old story precisely because of the reaction to news that Kenyan MPs were bribed to kill a National Assembly Committee report on contraband and poisonous sugar.

Many MPs who expressed anger and shock at the actions of their colleagues, as well as many citizens who expressed their views, were not so much concerned about the immorality of MPs selling their votes but that legislators who earn upwards of Sh1 million a month could be bought so cheaply. It was not about the principle but the amount.

IMMORTAL DANGER
The incident reminds us that, as long as immorality reigns supreme in Kenyan leadership, the war against corruption will remain in mortal danger.

And corruption fights back. Those desperate to protect ill-gotten billions can easily procure a critical mass of parliamentarians to launch counter-offensives.

Apart from rigged parliamentary probes, the tactics often employed by county assemblies to hold governors by the gonads through impeachment threats can easily be replicated at the national level.

Right now, demolition of buildings that have encroached on Nairobi’s wetlands provides a high-visibility demonstration that the campaign against institutionalised corruption and the culture of impunity is continuing unabated.

If President Uhuru Kenyatta is to stay the course on what can now be regarded as his flagship project and only chance of building a legacy, he needs the firm support of all people of goodwill.

BUILDING BRIDGES

With opposition chieftain Raila Odinga firmly backing the new initiative against corruption as part of the Building Bridges compact launched with the President, and his deputy William Ruto — often seen as a holdout — also declaring his support, the drive should be unstoppable.

But then, one wonders on whose behalf MPs from both the ruling Jubilee Party and the opposition Nasa coalition were working when allegedly spreading dirty money in the hallowed precincts of Parliament.

That itself is positive proof that whatever the key politicians may be saying in public, some of them are engineering underground opposition to the anti-corruption war.

Lack of political will has often been the weakest point in a series of aborted anti-graft drives over the years.

Corruption in Kenya is directed and fuelled by those in positions of power and authority, who also tend to be the biggest beneficiaries.

HIGH RISK GAMBLE

It is, therefore, mind-boggling that President Kenyatta, himself a beneficiary of official corruption, has launched a crusade that is bound to hit those closest to him in terms of family, friends, business associates and political partners who all helped to propel him to the top.

This high-risk gamble could torpedo badly if those closest to the President desperately fund political counter-offensives, especially if the 2022 State House succession race is thrown into the mix.

The President must have launched this war knowing that on it he stakes his political survival in the remainder of his second and final term.

There can be no retreat, no surrender, if he wants to ride home triumphant. The alternative would be abject capitulation which reduces him to a pitiable accident of history.

The demolitions must continue unabated but within the confines of the law.

LAND GRABBERS

Land grabbers have been put on notice but the President’s vow to also go after the public officers who abetted the crimes in the first place must be pursued as vigorously.

One can feel for third parties who unknowingly bought irregularly acquired land but the government can help the innocent to secure compensation from the original sinners.

We heard Governor Mike Sonko pledge to reclaim public playgrounds in the capital city that have fallen to grabbers. I can point him to just three where I scrapped many a knee in younger days.

There was one near the old South ‘C’ shopping centre, which used to be well equipped with slides, merry-go-grounds and swings but now houses a Sikh temple.

Another off Rhatpta Road, Westlands, is occupied by the Baptist Church. Then the one on Gandhi Avenue near the Nairobi West Hospital is set for construction of a mosque.

Mr Odinga can direct him, having led an operation to reclaim it from grabbers in the mid-1990s.


Poor faecal waste disposal bad for ‘Big Four’ goal of healthy nation

By EMILLY JUMA
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A person produces an average of 120 grammes of faeces a day or five million kilogrammes by all Kenyans.

Challenges in safe management of faecal waste from toilet to treatment for recycle or reuse means a majority of it finds its way back in to the environment.

The latest impact report by the Water Services Regulatory Board (Wasreb) shows that only six million of the 40 million Kenyans are connected to the sewer network.

But these are present only in urban formal areas. Residents of rural areas and urban informal settlements have to rely on non-sewered systems, many with illegal disposal mechanisms, to address their daily needs.

Well-to do residential areas in the cities and the outskirts depend on septic tanks through organised associations as a means to keep sewers out.

EXISTING GUIDELINES

They argue that sewers open up areas for development regardless of existing guidelines from the Physical Planning Act.

Karen Hardy residents have been reported appealing to the Nairobi County government to support their rainwater harvesting efforts by draining an unnatural sewer swamp that had attracted marabou stork which transferred the waste to roofs.

Countrywide, floods following heavy rains resulted in submerging of pit latrines or destruction of other communal toilet facilities, putting in question the quality of ground water from unregulated boreholes where households source water for use.

Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) and the Ministry of Health’s Division of Disease Surveillance and Response reported traces of the polio virus in samples from the sewer plant in Eastleigh, Nairobi.

That triggered a vaccination drive targeting 800,000 children.

And since the beginning of this year, cholera has claimed more than 70 lives in six counties. Curiously, the cases proved that even if one is connected to the sewer system, has access to potable water and practises high standards of hygiene, if the next person can’t afford or access decent sanitation services, we are all at risk of suffering the consequences of poorly managed faecal waste.

National budget allocations to sanitation are spread across ministries including Health, Environment and Forestry, and Water and Sanitation.

Notably, there is no budget line for sanitation and allocations are collectively well below the 0.5 per cent of GDP-to-sanitation Ngor Declaration (2015) target.

Although sanitation now has a home ministry, in line with recent executive orders, a lot more needs to be done to ensure it does not remain clouded by interventions that focus on water and hygiene.

A breakdown of itemised budgets drawn from the National Budget must be clear on allocations to preventive health aimed at fighting communicable diseases related to sanitation.

CURATIVE SERVICES

The ‘Health Sector Working Report 2018/9-2020/1’ notes that “public spending is skewed towards high-end curative services, which is both inefficient and inequitable”.

This, in itself, is the bane of the problem as we work to achieve universal health coverage.

Unsafe sanitation is the leading cause of diarrhoeal disease and stunting in children under five while 17 per cent of workplace deaths are due to disease transmission with global productivity loss of $260 billion and school absences blamed on lack of access to a good toilet.

To eke out a living and to feed the ever-growing demand for greens and fruits in an urban setting, subsistence and entrepreneurial small-scale farmers are tempted to use of raw faecal waste as fertiliser.

PERISHABLE GOODS

Presence of E.coli in perishable goods on Kenyan tables across the socio-economic divide is a frequently highlighted phenomenon. Inflamed intestines as bodies fight off resulting infections means low uptake of needed nutrients.

The Nairobi Faecal Waste Flow Diagram (SFD) illustrates the flow of faecal waste – from the household to treatment site – on a city-wide scale.

Not all the faecal waste in the sewer system makes it to the treatment plants and, worryingly, well over half of waste from non-sewered systems is unaccounted-for.

Ensuring budgetary allocations that chip away at the problem and designing or supporting programmes in urban sanitation will ensure we are well on our way to a healthy and nutrition-secure nation.

Ms Juma is a communications and policy officer, African Population and Health Research Center. [email protected]


Coast governors speak out on their achievements

By NATION TEAM
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Governors at the Coast have spelt out their achievements, a year after their election last August.

While some are serving their second and last terms in office and seeking to consolidate their legacies, the first-termers also want to make a mark in uplifting the lives of residents in the hitherto marginalised region.

In Mombasa, Governor Hassan Joho counts the new look and fully equipped Coast General Provincial Hospital among his major success stories.

“Part of the restoration is erecting the pavements and we plan to extend to the sub-counties after we are done with the CBD,” the county director of communication Richard Chacha said.

He said the town’s cleanliness has improved, with the Kibarani dumpsite being relocated. “Reclamation of Kibarani is a big achievement for us. We are committed to ensure Mombasa becomes the cleanest city,” he said.

In Tana River, Governor Dhadho Godhana, who is serving his first term, said job creation, building of roads and bridges and reduction of money owed to contractors are some of his successes.

UPGRADED ROADS

Mr Godhana said his administration has employed a “large number” of youth and women, and was determined to ensure 51 per cent of jobs went to the youth.

He said his government has upgraded more than 100km of roads.

Nearly half of Sh1.7 billion debt inherited by his administration, he said, had been paid. “The Garsen market had stalled since the contractor was not paid. We made sure that the contractor was paid and he is on site to finish the job,” he said.

Mr Dhadho has partnered with the Coast Development Authority to revive the Mango Pulp processing company, boosting farmers’ earnings.

SERVICE DELIVERY

In Taita Taveta, Governor Granton Samboja and his deputy Majala Mlaghui have ensured efficient service delivery.

Some 250 residents have been enrolled to the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) programme. The Sh40 million project targets the needy and is to benefit 7,500 households by next year.

The county is in the process of installing a 64 slice CT scan machine at Moi County Referral Hospital in Voi.

The county has launched subsidised Artificial Insemination services for dairy farmers to increase milk production and improve breeds.

In Lamu, Governor Fahim Twaha said he had fulfilled pledges made during the campaigns.

The governor said his priority was to ensure unity among various tribes and avoiding ethnic and religious divisions.

TITLE DEEDS

Mr Twaha said his efforts have yielded fruit, and Lamu is now more peaceful and stable.

He said 5,000 residents, who didn’t have title deeds, now have this crucial document, adding that the county is planning to resettle at least 20,000 squatters by the end of his term.

Mr Twaha said bursaries worth Sh60 million have been distributed to more than 7,000 secondary school and college students. He said the kitty has been raised to Sh120 million.

In Kwale, Governor Salim Mvurya said his administration has made tremendous progress in education, health, infrastructure development, water services, agriculture and trade.

The county has opened a CT-scan unit at Msambweni Referral Hospital and an intensive care unit.

It has also opened theatres in Samburu, Kinango and Lungalunga district hospitals. Mr Mvurya said the county is constructing a fruit processing plant in Shimba Hills.

LIT UP MALINDI

In agriculture, the county has distributed more than 800 dairy and beef cattle and Galla goats to improve local breeds. Farmers from all the four sub-counties have benefited.

Governor Mvurya’s government has also increased capitation for all youth polytechnic students from Sh12,000 to Sh15, 000 annually.

In Kilifi, Governor Amason Kingi prides himself in having lit up Malindi, Watamu, Mambrui, Kilifi and Mtwapa to facilitate a 24-hour economy.

County director of communication Charles Nyiro said apart from improving roads in the county, more than 1,200 acres have been put under irrigation to improve food security in the county.

Dr Nyiro said a Sh500 million ultra-modern medical complex is under construction and will handle referrals from Tana River and Lamu counties.

Reporting by Mohamed Ahmed, Stephen Oduor, Kalume Kazungu, Fadhili Fredrick, Charles Lwanga and Lucy Mkanyika


Not a coin for you, Keriako Tobiko tells Mau forest evictees

By KENNEDY KIMANTHI
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The government has ruled out compensating Maasai Mau forest evictees and instead directed them to seek payment from those who sold them land.

Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko said compensating the families “is tantamount to validating an illegality”.

This recommendation is contained in an August report, which was tabled in Parliament yesterday.

According to Mr Tobiko, compensating the evictees is wrong as it would mean regarding those who bought forest land as innocent victims.

The government has declared most title deeds held by forest dwellers null and void.

Mr Tobiko said the Constitution does not extend ownership rights to property acquired illegally.

“From the evidence and the long history of the Maasai Mau issue, the people who bought the land cannot plead innocence. Liability to compensate, whether by paying money or land, cannot be the burden of the government,” the report by the Environment Ministry says.

“Illegal settlement cannot be validated/formalised because there is no basis in law and it will be detrimental to the environment and livelihoods. Those persons with purported titles must surrender them within the time given for cancellation.”

The new move is likely to set the stage for another dispute as some politicians have been demanding compensation for those residents said to have genuine title deeds.

An alternative, the leaders say, is to ignore the eviction altogether.

The ministry says 1,089 people who originally got land within the forest, excised the parcels and later sold or transferred them.

The rip-off was masterminded by powerful and prominent individuals who later disappeared.

Many people sold land in their native areas to buy plots in the Mau “because land was very cheap”.

In interviews with the Nation, the settlers said they bought land in Sierra Leone and Kipchoge areas of the forest from prominent Narok County families.

But these “original” owners are not off the hook yet, as the report recommends that they be investigated and held criminally culpable.

“They cannot argue that they were not aware this was forest land. Those who sold the land and those who bought it may be deemed to be conspirators,” the document adds.

Government officers who facilitated the fraudulent acquisition of forest land should also be held criminally culpable, the report adds.

Pressure is mounting on the government to arrest individuals who encroached on the forest before selling the land.

GENUINE TITLE DEEDS

Mr Tobiko’s report appears to overrule that of Kenya Water Towers Agency, which indicates that when verification of landowners was done in 2009, only 430 settlers had genuine title deeds.

The ongoing eviction is to pave the way for conservation of the 46,000-hectare forest, which is one of the 23 blocks of the Mau complex.

More than 40,000 settlers have refused to leave the forest.

Maasai Mau is the most threatened block of the complex.

Mr Tobiko’s report singles out encroachment, commercial charcoal burning and illegal logging as the major threats facing Masai Mau forest, whose impact has been frequent floods, droughts, reduced river flows, food shortages, poor land productivity, among others.

Encroachment started in the 1970s when the government declared five adjudication sections in the north of Olposimoru and Maasai Mau forest.

GROUP RANCHES

The adjudication of group ranches, which took place in 1999, led to the extension of boundaries, culminating in a 17,101ha in excess, according to the minister.

It later emerged that those who first bought the land divided it and sold the pieces to “outsiders” even without title deeds while some settlers got the documents.

It is this unending chain that could see thousands lose homes, property and even land they thought was legally owned.

When the boundary was created, Nyayo Tea Zone corporation planted purple tea in a 25-kilometre area.

That created a zone to separate Maasai Mau forest, under Narok County, and Olposimoru forest that is managed by the Kenya Forest Service.

But the Environment Ministry says the boundary was ill advised as it did not serve the intended purpose. It wants to do away with it.

REHABILITATION

Other recommendations include the restoration and rehabilitation of the degraded areas and fencing of the entire forest to stop grabbing.

This year’s Phase One eviction has succeeded in the removal of 2,400 settlers from Nkoben to Kass FM areas.

About 4,500 hectares have been recovered. Phase Two will be in the Sierra- Leone section, which covers 10,092ha.

The government explored three options in dealing with the forest encroachment.

WATER TOWERS

These were maintaining the status quo and formalise a excision that would see people settle on their pieces of land, compensation and removal without compensation.

The first option was considered impracticable because it would heighten the clamour for excision of encroached water towers, to the detriment of the current and future generations as well as heighten already existing tension between communities.

Compensation was ruled out because of costs and paying for illegally acquired land is unlawful.


I was target of gun attack, says Enock Kibunguchy

By NATION TEAM
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Likuyani MP Enock Kibunguchy is blaming his political opponents after his driver was fatally shot by armed gangsters at a motel in Soy market, Kakamega County.

On Monday, the Ford-Kenya lawmaker said he was the prime target in the Sunday night killing by the attackers who also escaped with one his vehicle.

“The hitmen who were hired by my opponents whom I floored in the last General Election were after me,” the MP claimed without naming names.

“It is by the grace of the Lord that I survived the assassination attempt. They were targeting me. Unfortunately, the bullet hit my driver Douglas Wakachi who died on the spot,” said Dr Kibunguchy at the scene.

The incident happened as the driver ignited the engine ready to drive off the lawmaker. Dr Kibunguchy said he had instructed the driver to get the vehicle ready.

DRIVER DIED

“I was still in the hotel sorting out the bills when the driver who was already in the vehicle was confronted by the masked armed attackers,” said Dr Kibunguchy.

The attackers proceeded to the hotel where the MP was clearing bills at around 9pm and ordered him to lie down. They then fled using one of the MP’s cars after the hotel manager switched off the lights. The MP further claimed individuals who were out to grab Likuyani forest and they perceive him as a threat in their ill motive.

“Those who want to grab our forest are out to kill me so that they can proceed with their plans but I want to tell them that even if they kill me, they will not succeed,” said Dr Kibunguchy.

CONFRONTATION

Witnesses said a confrontation ensued between the gun men and the driver. In the ensuing altercation, one of the suspects pointed the gun at the driver and shot him in the head, killing him instantly.

The gangsters are reported to have panicked and fled from the hotel and headed to the MP’s vehicle. They tossed the driver’s body on the ground and drove off in the vehicle.

The MP was not accompanied by his body guard at the time of the attack but he was not harmed.

Western region DCI Mr David Cheruiyot said the thugs stole two mobile phones belonging to the MP.

The MP’s vehicle was later found abandoned at Nangili market.

SOMBRE MOOD

A sombre mood engulfed Soy the motel when the wife and the family of Mr Wakachi arrived at scene.

“We received a call from an unknown person that Kibunguchy’s driver is killed and we had to confirm because we did not know which driver it was,” she said.

“My son checked on Facebook and found out that indeed it was his dad who was killed,” said Eveline Wakachi, wife of the deceased.

She said that she has been left with eight children, three in secondary school.