In Summary
  • Speaking to the Nation during a visit to the area, some said they feared that cracks at the tip of the Kerio Valley would cause rocks to disintegrate.
  • Nicholas Suter, 60, said he decided to demolish his house, fearing it would be destroyed if the cracks expanded.
  • Area leaders said they had done all they could to raise the government’s attention on the impending disaster.

Residents of Siroch in Tambach, Keiyo South, are living in fear of an impending landslide as huge cracks have developed in roads in the area since last week.

Speaking to the Nation during a visit to the area, some said they feared that cracks at the tip of the Kerio Valley would cause rocks to disintegrate.

Nicholas Suter, 60, said he decided to demolish his house, fearing it would be destroyed if the cracks expanded.

"I'm destroying my home because I fear for my life and that of my family, not because I have an alternative place to live," he said.

"I have talked to a relative who had agreed to host us as we ponder the next move."

NO INCOME

The fruits and cereals farmer said his main source of income had been completely cut off with his movement to a safer area.

"I don't know what my children will eat or what I will use to pay fees when schools reopen. My life has revolved around this farm for years. It has been my lifeline but I now have to sadly let it go," said the father of seven.

Other residents said the government's promise for their resettlement in a safer area was yet to be fulfilled.

"We have lost count of the number of times the names of people vulnerable to landslides along these escarpments have been collected by government agencies. We are staring at death but have run out of options," said one Rose Jepchumba.

Nicholas Suter from Siroch village

Nicholas Suter (right), a resident of Siroch village in Anin, Elgeyo-Marakwet County, looks on as his house is demolished on May 2, 2020, following development of huge cracks in his five-acre piece of land. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

LEADERS' PUSH

Area leaders said they had done all they could to raise the government’s attention on the impending disaster.

"We have constantly been pushing the national government to help resettle people living in dangerous areas to safer ground," MCA Musa Kiplagat Limo said, adding that more than 30 families had been affected.

The resettlement of people living along escarpments in Elgeyo Marakwet has been in the cards for years.

Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen said, "The lives of our people are more important than the lives of trees that the government is protecting. A forest reserved area should be degazetted and people moved there.

"The forest should be brought to these escarpments for that will also reduce erosion, which is the main cause of these tragedies."

He issued these remarks after the Chesegon landslide that killed 17 people and left at least 4,000 displaced.

Siroch village cracks after heavy rains

A resident of Siroch village in Anin, Elgeyo-Marakwet County, is pictured on May 2, 2020, looking at huge cracks in pieces of land following heavy rains in the area. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

LENGTHY PROCESS

Environment Principal Secretary Chris Kiptoo, who hails from the county, noted that the process of degazetting a forest takes long.

"We are walking this journey together with the leadership from the region," he said.

"It is something we are hoping to get to the bottom of and deliver everyone's desire," he also said, adding that the Covid-19 pandemic had slowed the process.