NAROK, Kenya – A sweeping eviction operation in parts of the Maasai Mau Forest has left more than 3,000 individuals homeless. The evictions began approximately a month ago, with the government maintaining that the settlers were occupying forest land illegally.
In a stark contradiction to the government’s assertion, residents from the Enaituyupaki area in Narok North sub-county claimed they were promised compensation. They have defiantly resolved to remain despite the destruction of their homes. For many, the evictions were not just the loss of property, but a shattering of dreams and investments.
Roda Saoli, one of the displaced residents, shared her anguish with Citizen TV, recounting the harrowing experience of watching her house being demolished alongside numerous others on Thursday night. Her heartbreaking account highlighted the desperation many families now face. “We have no food, and I don’t know where to go. They started by clearing the maize, then destroyed the huts, and all our homes,” Saoli lamented.
The immediate aftermath of the eviction paints a grim picture. Families, like Saoli’s, have been forced to cook outside the remnants of what they once proudly called home. The uncertainty is palpable, as some residents hurriedly gather any salvageable belongings, while others shepherd their livestock to unidentified locations.
The sense of injustice among the residents is palpable. Saoli further mentioned, “We received no prior notice to prepare ourselves and our children. Sixty homes have been burned, and our children wander aimlessly. The government should stop mistreating us; we’ve done no wrong.”
While the government contends that these settlers had illegally built homes on forest land, many residents have a different story. Some claim to have resided on this land for as long as eight years, staunchly believing in their legitimate ownership. Dominic Saoli, another victim of the evictions, stated, “I’ve spent five million on my home, only to have it destroyed. We’ve been here for years, and this land was passed down from my father. Where do we go now?”
Further challenging the government’s narrative, Solomon Yengo, another evicted resident, voiced his frustrations: “The government allocated these lands, and there should have been an appeal process if there were complaints. We’ve been born and raised here.”
Rift Valley Regional Commissioner, Dr. Abdi Hassan, confirmed the eviction of 3,000 settlers in a bid to reclaim the encroached forest land. “So far, over three thousand individuals who had entered the forest have been evicted. They had built houses, but they weren’t meant for permanent living. We instructed these structures to be removed,” remarked Dr. Hassan.
Dr. Hassan identified the hardest-hit areas as Enebelbel, Eneng’etia, Ololpil, Olokurto, Sachwasan, Nkaretta, and Kerampa. Contrary to the residents’ claims, the government has been unyielding in its stance, stating it will neither offer compensation nor halt the evictions.
Reiterating the government’s stern position, Dr. Hassan declared, “The government is resolute on this issue. Those who’ve entered the forest are advised to promptly pack and seek the quickest exit. Those residing near the forest are warned not to enter and will have to continue living outside it.”
This mass eviction has ignited fierce debates about land rights, government interventions, and the delicate balance between environmental conservation and human habitation.