More than 500 families in Pokot Central and Pokot South South Sub Counties,West Pokot County are homeless after more than 250 houses were burnt when they were evicted from Lelan forest.
The move has seen has seen scores of families spend nights in the cold where some of the affected families sought shelter at their relatives’ homes and under trees.
Dozens of Kenya Forest Service officers spearheaded the eviction of the squatters at Paraw, Nakogen, Solion, Kapushen, Rawal and Kamulgon villages.
This comes after a survey was conducted in 2012 according to 1988 gazette notice and residents were supposed to move out of the forest land.
Residents moved to the land following an insecurity upsurge along the West Pokot and Elgeyo Marakwet Counties hence the government was forced to flush out criminals.
The families’ spokesman Mr. Benson Siwanyang said the structures were torched and demolished by officers from the Kenya Forest Service and national police reservists. They said that the evictions were conducted without the residents being given a notice.
They called on the County and national governments to supply them with relief food, drugs and beddings.
County security team led by West Pokot County commissioner Mr. Apollo Okello, West Pokot Governor John Lonyangapuo visited the area.
Okello said that the area is affected by insecurity along the West Pokot and Elgeyo Marakwet border where criminals hide in forests.
He said the evictions will continue, to flush out criminals hiding in forests till calm returns to the area.
Okello urged forest department to come out clearly and determine where the boundary is so that it becomes easy to deal with criminals. “There is a need to set up a camp in this area to avert bandits killing people because it will be useless. We need to cooperate with locals because they know the criminals,” he said.
Area leaders asked the government to allow residents back to their homes.
Governor John Lonyangapuo said they had an agreement with security officers to let the law take its course because the case involving the disputed areas is in court.
He however faulted the forest department for failing to deal with the situation well. “They’re are giving us problems, by letting people encroach instead of conserving the environment,” he said.
Lonyangapuo called on the national government to deploy more national police reservists to help beef up security in the area.