The National Assembly Committee on Environment and Natural Resources summoned Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko to appear before them on Monday, July 6, to respond to several questions regarding the planned Ngong Forest reclamation plan.
The committee chaired by Maara lawmaker Kareke Mbiuki asked the CS to disclose all the encroached forests in the country and his Ministry’s plan on the same.
The House further announced that all planned demolitions in the area had been put on hold until CS Tobiko made his appearance at the House.
“The question is that it was gazetted for public use and not private use. Then that in effect means that CS Tobiko has no business to do with that land because that land was already gazetted out of the forest,” Lang’ata MP Nixon Korir explained to the media.
CS Tobiko will not only be required to provide details of any legal excision of any forest in the country indicating the law under which such excision may have applied, but also provide details of repossession efforts by the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) for the encroachment of forest land.
The Mbiuki led committee argued that they needed to have a complete picture in order to make potential buyers aware of the dangers of investing in such land.
Pertaining to the Ngong Forest reclamation plan that is set to affect over 6,000 families, the CS has been asked to provide the legal status of the forest and history for its excision or de-gazettement since its proclamation in 1932.
Residents of Royal Park, Sun Valley I and II, Lang’ata Gardens, Langa’ta View Gardens and Forest Edge estates in Lang’ata filed petitions seeking proper documentation from the Lands Ministry, arguing that they had been paying land rates via the same government docket.
The forest has greatly reduced in size from an original 7,231.6 acres to its current 1,330.39 acres as the majority of the grabbing took place during former President Daniel Moi’s regime.
On his part, CS Tobiko confirmed that the land had been grabbed by a number of senior government officials, arguing that it was not the common citizen who had undertaken such a task.
According to a media report, the names of senior government officials were exposed in a report to CS Tobiko.
Three churches also stand to be affected in the reclamation process with Nairobi Chapel reportedly sitting on 6.5 hectares, Mugumoini PCEA church on 2.47 hectares and St. Francis ACK church on 2.50 hectares.