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Elders push to lead discussion on boundary row

Taita-Taveta Council of Elders, Njavungo, has said that boundary rows between counties would permanently be resolved if elders led the process to establish where the original county boundaries fell.
The chairperson of Njavungo, Mr. Donald Mwasi said boundary disputes could not be resolved through political and legal agreements. He noted that politics were marked by self-interest which worked against seeking a lasting solution to such an issue.
Speaking in Mwatate on Friday, the elder said Taita-Taveta and Kwale were embroiled in a bitter tiff over the ownership of Mackinnon Road Township with both counties laying claim to it. The county is also engaged in another row with Makueni over Mtito-Andei along Nairobi-Mombasa Highway.
Mzee Mwasi said elders had wisdom and institutional memory about boundaries between regions that were respected by traditional societies.
“It is only elders who can permanently resolve the conflict on boundaries. We should be consulted and lead the negotiations with our brothers in Kwale and Makueni,” he said.
He added that seeking legal redress would not address the feeling of deprivation by local residents who would feel their land has been taken away.
Since 2014, Taita-Taveta has had a raging row with Kwale County over the fate of the boundary between the two regions. Central to this row are hundreds of booming businesses that generate millions of shillings in revenue annually. There are also claims of vast deposits of gemstones and manganese in the contested area.
In 2018, Governor Granton Samboja led a host of other leaders to Mbele Primary School which is being claimed by both counties and declared the area is under his county.
He warned Kwale County to keep off and pledged to deploy revenue officers in the township. Governor Salim Mvurya later accused Samboja of incitement noting that the disputed area was under Kwale. It took the intervention of Deputy President William Ruto who asked the two leaders to tone down on the issue.
The chair of boundary committee Mr. Wilson Mwang’ombe said all documents showed the area was under Taita-Taveta County. He added that during compensation for roads and the SGR project, the beneficiaries were classified under Taita-Taveta County. “The area is in Taita-Taveta County,” he said.
However, Mr. Mwasi said elders could bring all leaders together for a lasting pact over the boundary. He argued elders were guided by higher desire to seek truth, promote peace and cohesion amongst the people in the region.
“Elders only live to serve humanity and are not led by interests. We only seek truth and that makes us the best placed people to bring all these matters to an end,” he said.
Senator Jones Mwaruma says that seeking elders’ intervention might be the workable solution to establish the actual location of the boundaries. He added such measures would help resolve the row.
By Wagema Mwangi

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