Governors Samboja and Mvurya clash over disputed Mackinnon Road town

Taita Taveta Governor Granton Samboja (fourth right) arrives at the disputed Mackinnon Road town on Friday last week. [Renson Mnyamwezi, Standard]
The governor of Taita Taveta has been warned against trying to take over the management of Mackinnon Road town.

Governor Salim Mvurya dismissed the threat by his Taita Taveta counterpart, Granton Samboja, to invade and occupy the town this week and take over revenue collection from Kwale.

“We have learnt, with great shock and disbelief, about the Taita Taveta County leadership’s attempt to invade Mackinnon Road and ward in Kwale County, declaring it part of Taita Taveta County. This is a violation of Kwale residents’ rights and freedoms,” said a statement by Mr Mvurya’s spokesman, Daniel Nyassy, yesterday.

Raised tensions

Mr Samboja’s visit to the town on Friday has raised tensions between Taita Taveta and its neighbours, Kwale to the east and Makueni to the west.

Last week the governor threatened to take over Mtito Andei, which is administered by Makueni, and instal revenue and enforcement officers.

And yesterday Samboja promised to eject officers from Kwale and instal his own revenue and enforcement officers. Mackinnon Road and Mtito Andei are both on the Mombasa-Nairobi highway

Both Taita Taveta and Kwale claim ownership of Mackinnon Road, most of whose residents are Taita and Duruma.

Taita Taveta leaders have claimed that the town was transferred to Kwale in the late 1960s.

During last year’s campaigns many Taita Taveta leaders pledged to ‘liberate’ Mackinnon Road from ‘occupation’, but Kwale leaders have vowed not give up the town.

On Friday, junior officers from Kwale watched as Samboja rolled into the dusty town in a large convoy, accompanied by most leaders from Taita Taveta.

Only two policemen were at hand as a crowds cheered the governor and his entourage.

“There is no way the town can be taken away as we watch. The town is in the county and we will do everything possible to reclaim it,” vowed Samboja.

Those in the county’s chief executive envoy included Deputy Governor Majala Mlagui, Senator Jones Mwaruma, MPs Jones Mlolwa (Voi) and Andrew Mwadime (Mwatate), County Assembly Deputy Speaker Chrispus Tondoo and Majority Leader Jason Tuja. All the 33 Taita Taveta MCAs were also present.

The governor inspected Mbele Secondary School, which was funded by the Voi Constituency Development Fund to the tune of more than Sh1 million, and Mbele Primary School.

However, the title deed to the primary school was issued in Kwale County.

The secondary school had been allocated 12 acres, but four were reallocated to the Kwale County.

Rights and freedoms

Mvurya maintained that the town was in Mackinnon ward in Kwale County and dismissed Samboja’s takeover claims, terming them a violation of Kwale residents’ rights and freedoms.

While calling for calm, he termed the ‘invasion’ a direct provocation and incitement of the residents of both counties by the Taita Taveta leadership.

Mvurya noted that he had a telephone conversation with Samboja on August 6 this year regarding the border dispute and that the two had agreed to ask residents to remain calm as the matter was resolved.

“We unequivocally demand that the Taita Taveta County leadership withdraw forthwith its claim on the said area and urge the leadership to promptly dialogue to resolve this dispute. We call upon the county agencies to beef up security and enhance vigilance in the area,” he said.

Mvurya said he had attempted to resolve the matter since 2014, but that there has been lack of cooperation from the Taita Taveta County government.

Taita Taveta Governor Granton SambojaMackinnon Road townGovernor Salim Mvurya