The Taita Taveta government has deployed revenue collectors to Mackinnon Road town as the county boundary row with Kwale heightens.
Taita Taveta County director of Communications Dennis Onsarigo said they will also select a team to hold talks with Makueni County over another boundary dispute over Tsavo River.
“The Makueni County Speaker has asked us to form a team to meet with those from Makueni at a neutral place to address the issue,” Mr Onsarigo said.
Speaking to the Nation by phone, Mr Onsarigo said, “The governor (Granton Samboja) is keen on having the matters resolved.”
Mr Onsarigo said a report on revenue collection at Mackinnon Road town will be issued on Friday.
The Kwale County government had warned Taita Taveta against invading and occupying Mackinnon Road town.
Kwale Governor Salim Mvurya took exception to a threat by Mr Samboja to take over the town and its revenue collection.
Situated along the busy Nairobi-Mombasa highway, the town is administratively in Kwale but the two counties have been laying claim to it.
Last week, Mr Samboja stormed Mbele Primary School in the area, sparking the latest spat and tension between the two counties.
Taita Taveta leaders claim the town was irregularly transferred to Kwale in the 1960s.
“We have learnt with great shock and disbelief about the Taita Taveta County leadership’s attempt to invade Mackinnon Road town and ward in Kwale County. This is a violation of Kwale residents’ rights and freedoms,” Kwale Communications Director Daniel Nyassy said.
He said the Kwale County government took the move by Taita Taveta leaders as a direct act of provocation and incitement of the residents of both counties who have for decades co-existed peacefully.
But Mr Onsarigo said no amount of persuasion or threats will stop the Taita Taveta government from laying claim to the town.
NO END TO DISPUTE
Mr Nyassy said Kwale leadership has attempted to amicably resolve the border dispute for the last four years in vain due to lack of cooperation and political goodwill from the Taita Taveta side.
According to colonial and post independent maps, the boundary between the two counties is at Miasenyi.
But Taita-Taveta residents argue that the boundary should pass in the middle of Mackinnon Road trading centre, at Mbele Primary School near the Kenya Wildlife Service camp.
Early this month, another boundary row erupted over Kuranze mineral zone, which the two counties also claim ownership.
It is believed that at the centre of the tug-of-war between the two counties is the economic importance of the two resource-rich areas in terms of revenue collection from local businesses.
Previous efforts to resolve the boundary dispute came a cropper and it will be interesting to see how things will pan out this time around.
Several task forces earlier formed by the national government to look into the problem seemed to have been running round in circles as none of their findings have ever been made public.
Countless joint leaders’ meetings have also been held to try resolve the matter but nothing concrete has ever been achieved so far.
In 2015, the National Cohesion and Integration Commission told 27 counties seeking to expand their territories that they would not be adjusted.
The commission said there was a misconception that the boundaries can be easily changed, noting that counties were created based on beacons of districts and provinces as outlined in a 1992Act of Parliament.
The scramble for territorial expansion is aimed at increasing areas of revenue collection, the commission added.