Squatters petition National Assembly over eviction from Bahati Forest

Bahati Forest

 A section of Bahati Forest in Subukia Constituency, Nakuru County.  More than 10,000 squatters evicted from the forest in 1988 have petitioned the Senate and National Assembly for compensation.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

More than 10,000 squatters evicted from Bahati Forest in Nakuru County in 1988 have petitioned the Senate and National Assembly for compensation.

The squatters, led by their spokesman Daniel Ndung'u, argued in their petition that they had been caring for the forest since independence before they were forcibly evicted.

The squatters said their houses were demolished and later torched by a combined force of the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) and the then provincial administration.

"The whole exercise was shameful, humiliating and discourteous, resulting in the painful loss of these people's precious valuables and other property," said Mr Ndung'u.

The petition, which has been submitted to the Senate and National Assembly by the Elimisha Mwananchi Initiative, calls on the government to accept responsibility for the forcible and illegal eviction and to compensate them by giving them land on which they can settle and live safely with their children for the rest of their lives.

"The government should allocate funds for resettlement and construction of decent houses and provide infrastructural facilities such as roads, water, electricity and other social amenities such as hospitals, schools, places of worship, markets, playgrounds, police stations among others," said Mr Robinson Njoroge.

The evictees argued that they had lost many livestock, crops and other valuables during the eviction.

At the same time, the evictees said their children had suffered irreparable damage by not receiving education compared to their peers and should therefore be equally compensated through job opportunities and government appointments through affirmative action.

"The government should also consider giving seed money to the children of the evictees who have no formal education to start their own businesses," Mr Njoroge added.

Another evictee, Ms Jane Wambui, said some of the evictees' children had lost their school certificates and since the eviction they had been unable to secure employment because they did not have the certificates.

"The Ministry of Education should liaise with the relevant examination boards to issue new certificates to the children of the evictees whose academic records were destroyed during the eviction," said Ms Wambui.

The evictees also argued that the government had compensated other Mt Kenya Forest evictees, while others were in the process of being compensated.

"In the spirit of equity, fairness and justice for all, it is important that the Bahati Forest evictees are also compensated without further delay to end the suffering of poor Kenyans," said Mr Ndung'u.

Most of the evictees are still squatters in neighbouring Nakuru, Nyandarua, Laikipia, Baringo and Kiambu counties.