State to reclaim Moi’s Kiptagich Tea estate

Friday, December 6th, 2019 00:00 |
Lands CS Faridah Karoney (right) with Solicitor General Kennedy Ogeto when they appeared before Parliament’s Environment committee yesterday. Photo/PD/SaMUEL KARIUKI

Retired President Moi could be forced to vacate his Kiptagich Tea Estate land acquired in 1978 after the government confirmed the estate is part of the Mau Forest Complex, which it seeks to repossess. 

The revelation came even as it emerged the Directorate of Criminal Investigations boss George Kinoti may from next week arrest and charge top government officials who illegally issued title deeds to squatters who own land in Mau Forest.

Others expected to be charged include officials of the group ranches who sold the land and members of the land control board who authorised the deals.

Lands Cabinet Secretary Farida Karoney and Solicitor General Ken Ogeto, who confirmed to a house committee that Moi’s firm is inside the forest, maintained that the 14,103.7 hectares that was allocated to five groups ranches; Sisiayni, Nkaroni, Enoosokoin, Enakishomi and Keiyo was illegally done.

A document tabled by Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko a month ago shows that out of the 417,973 total blocks in Mau forest, Kiptagich tea farm, which Moi owns, is among those which have encroached on the Trans Mara “Kiptagich Tea Factory is inside the Mau forest.”

 She added: “I would like to say that we are not protecting any big fish. With that I must admit that in Mau Forest, there are factories there. However, let me say this: That if due process was not followed to excise a forest then that land is illegal.” 

Appearing before the Environment and Natural Resources Committee chaired by Maara MP Kareke Mbiuki, the duo clarified that the DCI had taken over the matter and ruled out any form of compensation to the affected persons on grounds that individuals illegally or irregularly acquired forest land.

Karoney told the legislators that the position of government was that illegally and irregularly obtained titles do not confer proprietary rights, and hence do not warrant compensation. 

She was categorical all the titles issued within any forest reserve was not protected under article 40 of the Constitution unless due process was followed to vary the boundaries of any such forest.

She said the ministry had suspended and interdicted three registrars and one surveyor said to have issued the illegal titles.

Out of the 3,372 households or approximately 16, 000 , the government wants to evict from the forest, 716 individuals are said to have valid tile deeds, 4,439 individuals have sale agreements and letters of allotment and 2741 have no documents at all.

Ogeto said there was no evidence that the county council of Narok, which was holding the land in trust, invoked the provisions of section 13 of the Trust Land Act to allow private individuals acquire titles over forest land.

Meanwhile, the Government has banned any form of settlement along the cut-line in Maasai Mau forest with immediate effect.

Narok South Deputy County Commissioner Felix Kisalu said a 10 kilometre distance from the cut-line must be maintained to avoid possible re-invasion of the forest.

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