Meru leaders' plea to President over Tharaka boundary dispute

Interior CS Kithure Kindiki and Meru Governor Kawira Mwangaza during a meeting on May 19, 2023. [File, Standard]

Meru leaders have appealed to President William Ruto to implement the Zachary Ogongo report to resolve the border dispute between Meru and Tharaka Nithi counties.

Over the years, clashes have erupted pitting residents of both counties, leaving behind a trail of deaths, injuries and destruction of property.

At the heart of the dispute is delayed adjudication and issuance of title deeds for land, and the fight for ownership has led to disharmony among sections of leaders and residents in both counties.

When President Ruto, his deputy Rigathi Gachagua and other leaders attended a title deed issuance exercise at Tutua in Meru on Thursday, Meru Governor Kawira Mwangaza and Central Imenti MP Moses Kirima appealed for the implementation of the Ogongo report.

The late Ogongo’s commission investigated the border dispute back in 2007 and came up with various recommendations to end the frequent clashes, some of which were bloody.

Among the recommendations was the idea of a joint land adjudication team comprising members from the two counties with intimate knowledge of the area.

And since some of the residents had been displaced from their lands following the clashes of 1997, the commission recommended they be resettled.

The report came up with a definite boundary of Meru and Tharaka Nithi, by use of the colonial government map of 1954.

“We have a small problem of title deeds on the side of Meru and Tharaka Nithi (border). The Zachary Ogongo Commission gave a good report identifying the border. If that report is implemented, our problem of title deeds will end,” said Ms Mwangaza.

Mr Kirima noted that the dispute between the two counties had delayed the issuance of title deeds in various areas, including Kiamuri B adjudication area where work started in 2003 but is yet to be completed because of the border dispute.

“The Zachary Ogongo Commission report covered Tharaka, Chuka, Igembe, Tigania and North Imenti,” said the MP.

In May 2019, the National Assembly Committee on Lands toured Meru and Tharaka Nithi on a fact-finding mission.

Tharaka MP Gitonga Murugara, on behalf of petitioners, asked the committee to investigate various land matters.

The were investigating why the Ogongo report was never implemented.

They asked the government to intervene to urgently implement the report. They also called for the resettlement of internally displaced persons.