It took 14 days to solve a more than 40-year-old border conflict between Kajiado and Taita-Taveta counties, The Standard on Sunday can reveal.
In an emotional public signing ceremony at Elerai Chief’s Camp in Rombo Ward, governors Granton Samboja (Taita Taveta) and his Kajiado counterpart Joseph Ole Lenku put pen to paper to what is expected to bring closure to a decades long conflict along the boundary of the two counties.
The resolution exercise was based on the tenets of Kajiado County Dispute Resolution Mechanism Committee domiciled at the county's Department of Lands.
Governor Lenku is said to have set the ball rolling on Friday 19 June when he convened an emergency meeting with his Lands executive Hamilton Parseina to discuss the unending conflict after a petition to the governor by one of the group ranch leaders.
Parseina then placed a call to his Taita Taveta counterpart Mwandawiro Mghanga and the two exchanged notes on the matter.
The two CECs then agreed to mobilise an inter-county team of lands officials and surveyors for a meeting that would result in formation of a 22-member committee.
The committee immediately tasked the team of surveyors to carry out demarcation with strict reference to the original maps that set out boundaries of the former Rift Valley and Coast provinces.
The exercise would take about seven days, after which the group would reconvene again and study the surveyors’ report before adopting it unanimously.
Once the surveyors’ report was acceptable to both sides, the CECs were tasked to inform their respective governors, with Lenku suggesting the signing of an agreement between the two governors to legalise the mutually agreeable boundaries.
But even before the ink dries on the agreement there seems to be murmurs of discontent from some of the residents who cite lack of adequate participation over the matter.
Former Taveta MP who is also a member of the area sub-county peace and resolution committee member Mwacharo Kubo disowned the agreement saying the two governors did not involve residents.
Kubo, a lawyer who served as Taveta MP from 1974 to 1992 said no public participation was done between the different communities living in the area.
“The two governors went ahead to sign the agreement without involving local residents and leaders,” said Kubo.
Taita-Taveta Senator Jones Mwaruma also said local leaders were not involved in the deal.
“The agreement could be legal but the only problem is that local leaders were not involved. Other leaders also have a stake on the issue,” said the senator.
“We have never sat as leaders to talk about the issue.
Local MPs have complained that they have not been consulted and we will sit to make our stand known to the local people,” said Mwaruma.
The two governors said the deal will help foster co-existence between communities living along the boundary between the two counties.
Samboja on the other hand said the historic agreement signals a fresh start for a lasting solution, peaceful co-existence between the two communities living along the disputed boundary.
“Today marks the end of a 50-year old boundary dispute between Taita-Taveta County and our neighbouring sister county of Kajiado,” said the governor during the event.
Governor Ole Lenku termed the event as historic. “We have resolved the 50-year-old boundary dispute between the people of Kajiado and Taita-Taveta counties.
We have reclaimed the land that had been encroached by neighbouring community at Njukini.”
Lenku called upon communities from both sides to respect the demarcated boundary and observe laid down rules to ensure peace and harmony prevail.
“We have demonstrated that many boundary disputes among several counties can be resolved without going through torturous court proceedings,” he said.
Director of Communications and County Government Spokesman Denis Onsarigo said the existing county boundary disputes can be addressed by governor’s without going to court or using the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC). He said the binding resolution will now be deposited at the IEBC.
Samboja also invoked the political goodwill aspect to the resolution when he spoke at the event.
“President Uhuru Kenyatta has called me to say he is in full support with what I am doing with governor Lenku. He thanks the local communities for supporting the new boundary pact.”
He said he would use the experience to strike a similar agreement with Kwale and Makueni counties, with which Taita Taveta has similar border rows.
Challa Ward Rep Omar Nguzo said the agreement will be subjected to verification on whether the land in dispute is in Taita-Taveta or Kajiado.