The Council of Governors (CoG) has stepped in to end long running boundary disputes between Kwale and Taita-Taveta counties, that often raise tensions between the two devolved units.
The CoG has organized a face to face meeting between Kwale Governor Fatuma Achani and her Taita Taveta counterpart, Andrew Mwadime, where it was decided that the protracted dispute would be resolved through a traditional dispute resolution mechanism.
The meeting was also attended by Governor Mutula Kilonzo (Jnr) of Makueni, whose county has been dogged by border disputes with Taita Taveta and Kajiado counties.
Currently at least 18 counties are in various disputes over their boundaries, with the centre of it being who collects levies in the disputed areas.
Governor Achani termed the fresh move by the CoG a ‘step in the right direction’ and hoped that a solution will be found as soon as possible.
The latest talks come against the backdrop of past efforts by the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC), to peacefully resolve the longstanding county border disputes.
The previous NCICs efforts to engage politicians, elders and opinion leaders from the disputed areas as part of the peace efforts have come a cropper.
Achani hoped that the CoG would leave ‘no stone unturned’ in finding an amicable boundary settlement.
“We hope this new push will usher in a new era of peace, harmony and progress in Kwale and Taita Taveta counties,” she said, adding that the Cog’s resolve of a peaceful and dispute-free counties should be supported by all and sundry.
She also said the traditional dispute resolution mechanism agreement provides a road map for resolution of other boundary disputes between counties.
Kwale Governor termed the closed door meeting, as having had fruitful negotiations that would in the long run be a good example on how to end county border disputes in the country through peaceful means.
“Ours will serve as a model for the rest of the counties embroiled in disputes often triggered by the desire for the control of key economic zones, which remain an area of vulnerability,” she said.
The boundary dispute has been simmering between the two counties with each laying claim to the resource-rich 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.
In the past, Taita Taveta Administration’s effort to start collecting taxes in Mackinnon Township with both counties claiming it has met 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 also involved in similar legacy boundary issues with neighbouring Makueni and Kajiado counties.
Governor Achani noted that boundary disputes should not be allowed to fester and destroy the prospect for economic development in the devolved units.
By Hussein Abdullahi