Leaders from Nyanza and Western regions have appealed for calm over the raging Maseno border row pitting Kisumu and Vihiga counties.
Governors Moses Akaranga (Vihiga), Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega), Cyprian Awiti (Homa Bay), Jack Ranguma (Kisumu), Cornel Rasanga (Siaya) and Okoth Obado (Migori) said the dispute is threatening to derail the gains of devolution in the Lake Basin region.
Senators Boni Khalwale (Kakamega), Anyang’ Nyong’o (Kisumu), George Khaniri (Vihiga) and Amos Wako (Busia) said the conflict might have repercussions in Kisumu, Kakamega, Busia, Trans Nzoia, Homa Bay, Migori, Kericho, Bomet, Nyamira, Kisii, Bungoma, Vihiga and Siaya counties.
They said businesses and operations in institutions like Maseno University and Maseno School might be affected.
Residents along the border of the two counties have now begun collecting signatures for a petition to be presented to the National Assembly.
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Yesterday, Luanda MP Chris Omulele expressed optimism that the National Land Commission (NLC) will look into the matter.
“As the area legislator, I am going to present the petition and wishes of the people of Luanda to the relevant authorities. I hope NLC will come down to the ground and work on it. We are not calling on the review of the boundaries now, but accessing of the area first,” said Mr Omulele.
Mr Oparanya said most counties are faced with boundary disputes and a legal framework should be put in place to resolve them pointing out that even Kakamega has boundary issues at Matunda, Moi’s Bridge and Turbo that are yet to be resolved.
“Boundary disputes are affecting our revenue collection. We must have a legal framework to address the matter if governors fail to resolve them through dialogue. Maseno issue has been there for a long time and it should be resolved immediately,” said Oparanya.
Governor Ranguma said he had initiated talks with his Vihiga counterpart Mr Akaranga to settle the issue amicably.
“We have lived in peace and continue to do businesses, inter-marry and even share cultures with our neighbours from Vihiga County. I have done roads up to Vihiga County that benefit members from all communities that live in the region,” Mr Ranguma said.
Akaranga agreed that he had held meetings with Ranguma and he was optimistic that the matter would be resolved soon.
“This is a sensitive matter and we want to solve it peacefully without causing friction. I have formed a technical committee that is collecting views from residents of the area. The report will be out in two weeks and then we will move forward based on its findings,” he said.
Mr Rasanga on his said his county being close to Vihiga and Kisumu was keen to see an amicable solution to the issue is reached.
“What I see is mere politics, which cannot benefit locals. Let sobriety prevail and elders across the divide should sit down and find a lasting solution,” Rasanga said.
His Homa Bay counterpart Mr Awiti said leaders in the region should guard against any move or misunderstanding that can interfere with peace and inter-county relationship in the Western economic bloc.
Migori Governor Mr Obado called for caution, saying leaders in the region should realise that conflict hampers development.
“We are one people in Kenya. Let us not create boundaries for our own sakes. Our economic bloc seeks to benefit all our people and we shouldn’t let this small matter divide us,” Obado said.
Dr Khalwale said the Senate has the mandate to resolve the Maseno boundary dispute in accordance with the Constitution. “The Senate has already formed a commission to handle the matter,” he said.
He asked leaders and residents to restrain themselves and wait for the commission to give the final verdict on the dispute.
“Our people should refrain from making careless statements which may cause animosity,” he said.