The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) is set to resolve the longstanding border dispute between Kwale and Taita-Taveta counties.
A section of members of the commission are on a tour of the two devolved units in the coastal region to strive to resolve their border dispute.
Led by Commissioner Dorcas Luvalitsa Kedogo, the NCIC team has separately met governors Salim Mvurya (Kwale) and Granton Samboja (Taita-Taveta).
Speaking to the press outside the Kwale county headquarters on Saturday after meeting the Kwale county leadership led by governor Mvurya, Kedogo urged for cooperation to resolve the border dispute.
The boundary dispute has been simmering between the two counties with each laying claim to the Kuranze mining zone which is home to several gemstone mines.
The two devolved units are also embroiled in a boundary dispute over the bustling Macknon Road Township along the Mombasa-Nairobi highway with each claiming that it was within their confines.
Three weeks ago, Taita Taveta administration’s efforts to start collecting taxes in Mackinon Township was met with stiff resistance from Kwale officials who accused their counterparts of trespass.
Both sides often trade accusations of trespassing over the disputed areas that has been the source of tension for a long time.
Taita-Taveta is involved in similar border disputes with Makueni and Kajiado counties.
Commissioner Kedogo announced that NCIC already held talks with Taita Taveta county leadership on the matter, and was planning to collect views from community elders before compiling its findings.
She said the NCIC commissioners would also engage elders and opinion leaders from the disputed areas as part of the peace efforts.
“In a similar manner, efforts will be made to resolve the border disputes between Taita-Taveta, Makueni and Kajiado counties and indeed other places with similar disputes,” she said adding that county borders should not pose an impediment to building a cohesive society.
She also stated that NCIC was closely working with the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and the National Land Commission (NLC) on the issue.
“We are collecting views from residents and leaders of the two counties and at the same time working closely with the IEBC and the NLC to resolve this longstanding border dispute amicably,” she said.
Commissioner Kedogo asked the people of the two counties to seize this ‘unique opportunity’ and extend the necessary cooperation to the NCIC, IEBC and NLC.
She said NCIC as a State agency that seeks to address and reduce inter-ethnic conflicts would not sit and watch inter-county border disputes that threaten to destroy the very fabric of the society.
Commissioner Kedogo was flanked by Commissioner Wambui Nyutu and NCIC’s Assistant Director for Civic Education and Advocacy Kilian Nyambu.
On his part, Governor Mvurya welcomed efforts by the State agencies to resolve the border dispute peacefully.
“We are convinced that with goodwill, a lasting solution would be found that will also allow residents from both sides to ply their trade on either side of the border without encountering problems,” he said.
Mvurya said last week he had a telephone conversation with his Taita-Taveta counterpart and agreed to resolve the dispute over their shared border through peaceful means.
“The discussion I had with governor Samboja was cordial and fruitful and we agreed to handle our differences through peaceful and brotherly ways,” said Mvurya who was flanked by his deputy Fatuma Achani, County Secretary Martin Mwaro, Chief Officer Public Service and Administration Juma Nzao and the Chief of Staff Rodgers Chimega.
Mvurya asked leaders in the two counties to refrain from preaching divisive and tribal politics but instead preach unity to Kenyans.
He asked residents of the two ‘brotherly counties’ not to be carried away by incitement and divisive politics preached by ethnic demagogues but concentrate on development.
By Hussein Abdullahi