Sigh of relief as govt revokes gazettement of Chetambe land

The government has withdrawn the gazette notice of Chetambe hills land in Webuye East, Bungoma County that was set aside as a forest reserve.

Several leaders in Bungoma County had asked the government to revoke the gazettement of the hills land that would have led to eviction of thousands of people.

The government had gazetted the eviction of over 10,000 people in the controversial land.

The 406 hectares of Chetambe hills in parts of Maraka and Mihuu wards had been gazetted as a forest reserve by the government on July 25 last year.

Environment and Forestry Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko said that President Uhuru Kenyatta had asked him to revoke the gazette notice and allow fresh identification and survey of the land to verify those who were compensated by the government.

Speaking at Sipala secondary school on Monday, Tobiko assured residents of their right to stay on the land.

“The government has withdrawn the gazette notice of Chetambe hills land, the new identification and the survey of the land will be conducted soon to identify those who were compensated,” he said.

“The gazette notice has been withdrawn with immediate effect, let those who were compensated plan to leave the parcels of land the government bought for it to be repossessed,” he said.

He called on Bungoma County Commissioner Samuel Kimiti to identify those who were compensated and have them leave the government owned land.

“Those who were not compensated should settle down and initiate development projects, those settling in government owned land should surrender it for the gazettement,” he said.

Tobiko directed for the identification, survey and eviction of those people who were compensated to allow for the gazettement of their land into a forest reserve.

Leaders led by Defense CS Eugene Wamalwa had called the forest CS to resolve the Chetambe hills land issue and allow residents to settle in peace without fear of facing eviction any time soon.

Devolution CS Eugene Wamalwa

“Majority of these people are worried a lot, they can’t settle well based on the eviction threats that are facing them, Waziri assure them of their right to own this land,” he said.

Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka said that the petition in the Senate should be discussed speedily to allow the issue to be settled once and for all.

“The petition of this land is already in the senate, it comprises many people, it is not a one man show, I hope the issue will be settled very fast,” he said.

Bungoma Governor Wycliffe Wangamati stated that the Chetambe hills land issue has been very emotive for the last six months.

Kanduyi MP Wafula Wamunyinyi also called on the government to settle the Chetambe hills land issue permanently.

“This is an emotive land issue and some people should not use it to gain political popularity, let this issue be settled once, let the government allow the inhabitants to remain settled here,” said the DAP-K party leader.

Violet Makhanu, Mihuu Ward MCA appealed to Tobiko to listen, take views and allow the emotive land issue be settled peacefully.

She stated that the residents of the hill have settled and developed the region and have known it as their only home.

“Our grandfathers lived here, we have known Chetambe as our home, let the government settle this matter once and for all to stop raising temperatures for nothing,” she said.

She stated that Chetambe hill is a historic site because it is where the Bukusu and the Tachoni community defeated the colonists during the fight for Independence.

  

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