Governors caution over inter-county border rows

Lake Region Economic Bloc chairman and Kakamega governor Wycliffe Oparanya (left) with Nandi Deputy governor Yulita Cheruiyot while addressing the press in Kisumu on September 18th 2018. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

Governors from 14 counties that form the Lake Region Economic Bloc (LREB) have expressed fear that boundary rows between some of its members could pose a threat to peace and security.

Addressing journalists at the LREB secretariat in Kisumu yesterday, Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, the bloc's chairman, called for peaceful co-existence of residents of the counties.

"We cannot pretend to be working together as a family when silently there are unresolved issues holding us back. Let us confront them and make peace," said Mr Oparanya.

Oparanya met Kisumu Governor Anyang' Nyong'o and Nandi Deputy Governor Yulita Cheruiyot and all agreed to working together to end border disputes.

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"If we have seen one county or two are involved in a boundary dispute, it is strongly advisable to try and resolve it amicably with the other party," Oparanya said. He said boundary disputes, if unchecked, could lead to expensive litigation. He urged LREB members to avoid going down that road.

The financial cost of such litigation, he said, might exceed the value of the land in dispute and even lead to long-running acrimony between neighbours.

"This is why we have selected elders drawn from Kisumu, Kakamega, Nandi, Kericho and Bomet to help us governors resolve the historical land and border feuds," he said

Kisumu and Nandi counties have land disputes dating back to the colonial era.

Prof Nyong'o said most of the boundaries were delineated by the colonial government.

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"So the beacons that exist there date back to 1963 in descending order. We don't need fresh revisions now. Don't use the matter to stoke political tensions," he said.

Jaramogi Odinga

A border row has also been silently brewing between Vihiga and Kisumu counties over the location of Maseno, a town that also harbours a university.

Months ago, some Nandi leaders claimed the dispute started when the late Jaramogi Odinga was founding President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta's Vice President.

The Nandi residents claim those living in the disputed towns got there as labourers for colonialists' cane and sisal estates.

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Some leaders alleged that Jaramogi petitioned President Kenyatta to allow members of his community to settle in hilly places in Nandi during heavy rains to avoid being swept away by floods.

The elders chosen to resolve the border disputes will meet with the governors at LREB summit and discuss ways of ending the rows.

Their resolutions will also inform the IEBC, as it prepares for boundary reviews next year. 

Interior Security CS Fred Matiang'i recently met leaders, including elders from Nandi and Kisumu, in Nakuru in a bid to resolve the boundary dispute.

"We want the two communities to live in peace and if there are issues regarding the unresolved boundary reviews, IEBC will look into the matter," Dr Matiang'i said.

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GovernorsLake Region Economic BlocLREBKakamega Governor Wycliffe OparanyaKisumu Governor Anyang' Nyong'oNandi Deputy Governor Yulita CheruiyotBorder Rows