Bungoma County Commissioner Maalim Mohammed has given a two week ultimatum to Mt. Elgon residents who have encroached and settled in Mt. Elgon forest land to vacate immediately to conserve the environment through preservation of trees.
Addressing residents of Chepkitale, the County commissioner said climate change is really affecting the world through deforestation and those who have crossed the boundaries to settle in the land reserved for Mt. Elgon forest must shift immediately.
“The boundaries are clearly known and those who have trespassed have two weeks to vacate the land. You are allowed to only graze in the land, not to settle there fully.” he said
Maalim disclosed that the government has provided two hundred hectares of land for the Shamba System of farming to help achieve food security.
He expressed his disappointment that the residents are also crossing over the demarcated land to the forest land saying it is against the rules and those found will be prosecuted accordingly.
He further disclosed that people from foreign countries may also be tilling the land reserved for the forest saying the Kenya Forest Service officers will be following up on the issue to ensure the encroachment issue is dealt with.
Maalim said there has been no reported case of poaching for the past one year in Mt Elgon forest and applauded the character of Chepkitale residents for conserving the wild animals in the forest saying they are a tourist attraction and can be able to help Bungoma County boost its economy through tourism.
However he called upon the residents to be on alert and report any incidences that may threaten the lives of the animals as they are a great heritage to the country and must therefore be jealously guarded.
On the other hand Chepkitale residents complained of not accessing government services including hospital, education and did not even have a chief or an assistant chief an issue they say is very dire saying.
Maalim said he will forward the issue of the chief to the ministry of Interior and National Coordination to have an assistant chief deployed as soon as possible.
Regarding identity cards Maalim cautioned chiefs in the County against recommending people who are not Kenyans to be given identity cards saying the issue has led to suspected terrorists to cause harm to the society.
One of the opinion leaders in Mt Elgon Harry Kimtai called for the CDF committee to ensure Chepkitale benefit from the fund saying being part of the Mt Elgon the residents have a right to access development .
He further called upon the government to start up a secondary school in the region because children who finish their primary school education end up dropping out of school because they have a hard time accessing secondary schools.