Environment and Forestry Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko has announced efforts to reclaim grabbed land belonging to Ngong forest, in a move that will see more than 800 homes demolished by government authorities.
The pronouncement put’s into a tailspin the fate of billions of shillings sunk by unsuspecting Kenyans in the acquisition of land and development of properties in the area.
According to Nation, some of the estates that could be affected include Royal Park, Sunvalley I and II, Lang’ata Gardens, Langa’ta View Gardens, Forest Edge, Kenya Medical Association Estate and St. Mary’s Hospital, as well as others in Racecourse where land was annexed for foreign commercial developments.
The CS said the action to reclaim the grabbed should begin immediately following a directive by President Uhuru Kenyatta saying those who have illegally received titles to forest land will have their titles revoked.
“I’m hereby declaring the immediate commencement of the recovery process of the land in the Ngong Road Forest that has over the years been illegally acquired,” Mr. Tobiko said last Friday.
The move comes just days after the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) warned Kenyans against being drawn into illegal land buying within Ngong Road Forest around Sunvalley Lang’ata and surrounding areas.
A statement by KFS Chief Conservator Julius Kamau revealed that Ngong Forest sits on 1,224.4 hectares, but up to 789 hectares have long been grabbed by rogue developers and land cartels. However, according to a record given by KFS in 2017, the Ngong Road Forest sat on 2,850 hectares at gazettement, in 1932.
Records show a long history of forest land grabbing. When the forest was declared a central forest in 1964 after independence, it had shrunk by nearly half to 1506.4 hectares.
By 1999, following a series of excisions involving lands ministry insiders, the forest had contracted further to 538.4 hectares.
KFS chief surveyor Evans Kegode said the organization was aware of a plan to further cut off 165.5 hectares from the forest, leaving only 373 hectares of forest land or 13 percent of the original.