Tragic accident unearths underlying issues among Ogieks
Security has been beefed up in Marioshoni and Kiptunga areas of Molo Constituency, Nakuru County after irate youths set ablaze 15 vehicles belonging to Comply Industries Limited on Monday.
The vehicles, which included six big lorries, six loaders, one land cruiser, one small lorry and a bulldozer were set ablaze after a Comply Industries lorry that was transporting logs from Kiptunga forest ran over two passengers riding on a motorbike, killing them on the spot.
Comply Industries, which is a sister company to giant timber manufacturing companies Tim sales and Raiply, is based in Nakuru and is a leading manufacturer of a variety of timber products such as ply wood, block boards, and hard boards among others.
The land cruiser was set ablaze at Marishoni Trading Centre while two other lorries were set on fire at the scene of accident about three kilometers away.
The head of Mau Conservancy who is also a senior assistant director at the Kenya Forest Service (KFS), Cosmas Ikiugu, said that about 50 youths then went to the Comply camp located within Kiptunga Forest where they set ablaze the other vehicles after dousing them with diesel.
He said that Comply staff who were at the site fled to save their lives.
While condemning the act, Ikiugu said that the issue had been politicised, adding that the Ogiek community should not complain of not benefiting from local forest resources.
He said that the section of the forest that Comply was harvesting trees from could not be allocated to the local community because they do not have the capacity to harvest the trees.
The director said that two licenses had been given to the Ogiek community to manage a blue gum plantation within the forest, adding that the local community forest association was aware of the same.
On the other hand, locals led by the chairman of Kiptunga Forest Association (CFA), Joseph Lesingo, blamed KFS for cancelling a timber-harvesting license allocated to the locals adding that Comply Industries was irregularly allocated the harvesting license.
They blamed the death of the two people on Sunday on over speeding and careless driving.
The locals said that Comply drivers have killed several livestock but their complains have not been addressed.
This happened as Nakuru County Police Commander Hassan Barua and the regional commandant of the Kenya Forest Service Rangers led a team of security officers to the Comply site where detectives spent the day piecing together information on what transpired.
Area MCA Agnes Salimu called on the locals to remain calm and allow police to carry out investigations.
She said that the Ogiek community has on several occasions raised issues about management of local forest resources, which she said was unfairly done.
She added that a case filed against the Kenya Forest Service by the Ogiek community was recently ruled in their favour.
Within Kiptunga Forest which is usually a beehive of logging activities for pre-qualified saw millers, there was little activity save for the local saw millers who also sought police escort for fear of attacks.
No one has been arrested in connection with the incident.
Comply senior operations manager identified only as Mr Kihumba who visted the crime scene decline to speak to the media preferring that KFS makes a formal statement.