State revokes gazettement of Chetambe hills, puts on hold eviction of residents

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The government has withdrawn the gazette notice of Chetambe hills land in Webuye East, Bungoma County that was set aside as a forest reserve.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

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

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.

Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Forestry 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.

“President Kenyatta has withdrawn the gazette notice of Chetambe hills land, the new identification and the survey of these land will be contacted soon to identify those who were compensated,”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

The gazette notice by the government setting aside Chetambe hills land as a forest reserve was done six months ago.

“The gazette notice has been withdrawn with immediate effect, let those who were compensated plan to leave the parcels of land the government bought for it to be repossessed back” he said.

He called on Bungoma County Commissioner to identify  those who were compensated for them to 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 gazettment,” he said.

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

Earlier on Local leaders led by Defense CS Eugene Wamalwa had called the forest CS to resolve the Chetambe hills land issue and allow residents settle in peace and carry on with their development projects without fear of facing eviction any time soon.

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

Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka assured that the petition in the Senate should be discussed faster to allow the issue be settled once.

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

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

“We met President Uhuru Kenyatta with five governors from Western region over the Chetambe of this hills land, I hope the President will get the way forward over the matter,” he said.

Wangamati called on Tobiko to revoke the gazettment of Chetambe Hills land once and all.

Kanduyi Mp Wafula Wamunyinyi called on the government to settle the Chetambe hills land issue for once and all.

“This is the 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 remain settled here,” said the DAP-K party leader.

Violet Makhanu, Mihuu Ward MCAAppealed to Tobiko to listen to them, take their views and allow the emotive land issue be settled for once and all.

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

“Our grandfathers lived here, we have known Chetambe has our home, let the government settle this matter for once and 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 colonialists during the fight for Independence.

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