Kenya forest guards clash with squatters

Aug 30

Caption: Ngong forest also forms the upper catchment of Athi and Kiserian rivers and also serves as a wildlife habitat.

Parts of olteyani in Ngong were turned into a battlefield as irate residents resisting eviction from the forest took to the streets barricading roads and lighting bonfires.

The residents were protesting evictions from parts of the ngong forest which they claim is their ancestral land even as forest officials say they had encroached on forest land.

It took the intervention of anti riot police and the district commissioner to quell the tension and restore calm.

According to the KFS Deputy Commandant Major (Rtd) Charles Otieno who was leading the team, the residents were armed with crude weapons which forced armed KFS rangers to withdraw to avoid any possible injury.

According to the Head of Nairobi Conservancy Ms Charity Munyasya, the squatters had been given adequate notice to vacate the forest land which they had encroached.

She said the over 6,000 families had the previous week sought audience with the forest officials who declined to give in to their demands.

KFS said they will continue with their efforts to conserve and rehabilitate the forest.

The squatters claimed that those outside the gazetted forest were also being targeted in the evictions but the officials  refuted the claims saying only those within the forest will be evicted.

Approximately 600 households live within this 400 yards perimeter line, and occupy over 400 hectares of forest land, which was grabbed in 1990 and illegally allocated.

The forest hill because of its imposing nature, having a summit of approximately 8,000 feet (2438m) above sea level is an important landmark especially in aerial navigation.

Ngong forest also forms the upper catchment of Athi and Kiserian rivers and also serves as a wildlife habitat.

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