Nominated Senator Esther Okenyuri is seeking the intervention of the Senate to resolve a dispute between Kisii and Nyamira counties on the Keroka town boundary.
Ms Okenyuri wants the Senate's Standing Committee on Devolution and Intergovernmental Relations to probe the matter and provide the cadastral maps and the exact boundary points between the two feuding counties.
She is also pursuing to have the committee state reasons for the ongoing boundary dispute between the two counties, and address claims of double taxation of traders in the town and the resulting chaos.
“The committee should undertake a visit to engage the affected communities in dialogue and conflict resolution. It should also outline effective interventions being undertaken by both levels of government towards ensuring a permanent resolution of the disputed boundary area,” she says.
Last week, Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu called for sobriety over the Keroka town boundary row.
"Let us not allow the fights to continue. We are living together as one community. A boundary issue should not be escalated to a point of fighting amongst ourselves," said Machogu.
Already a petition has been filed before the Nyamira Environment and Lands Court by a Member of the County Assembly claiming ownership of Keroka town which has been at the centre of the conflict.
Nyambega Gisesa (Rigoma Ward), on behalf of Nyamira County, is seeking orders to compel the National Lands Commission (NLC), and the county governments of Nyamira and Kisii to investigate, survey and beacon land in Keroka town.
He is also seeking the same be done on the Kenya Agriculture Research Institute-Kisii, ATC Kisii and parts of Getare and Jogoo areas in Kisii town which he believes are either partly or entirely within the boundaries of Nyamira County.
Nyambega argues that 13 years after the promulgation of the Constitution, NLC has not resolved any historical boundary dispute involving any county as provided under Section 5 of the National Land Commission Act, 2012.
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In the matter filed at the Environment and Land Court Nyamira on April 14, 2023, NLC and the Attorney General appear as the first and second respondents respectively.
The county governments of Nyamira and Kisii appear as the first and second interested parties respectively.
Whereas, on one hand, Nyamira County claims that over 90 per cent of Keroka town belongs to it, Kisii County on the other hand claims that part of the town belongs to it pursuant to existing documentation.
The petitioner argues that the boundary dispute does not just concern the actual boundaries of Nyamira County.
“They are also based on the allegation that the current county boundaries are unfair because they are based on historical injustices,” he claims.
At the centre of the dispute, the petition says, is the question of who collects levies at the disputed town, which is a key collection point.
“The dispute has created tension in the market which has in the past turned violent leading to the loss of lives and livelihoods," the petitioner argues.
According to the petition, the continued occupation and levying of taxes and land rates by the Kisii County government in the stated parcels of land is irregular, unlawful and unconstitutional.