Tracing the Kwale, Taita border row - Daily Nation

Kwale, Taita border row goes back to colonial days – Elders

Thursday August 16 2018

Mackinnon Road town

Mackinnon Road town which is at the border of Kwale and Taita Taveta counties. Elders say the dispute can be traced back to the colonial days when the districts were under European district commissioners. PHOTO | LUCY MKANYIKA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By LUCY MKANYIKA
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The raging boundary row between Taita Taveta and Kwale counties over Mackinnon Road town can be traced back to the colonial days when the districts were under European district commissioners.

According to elders who spoke to the Nation, in 1961 the process to transfer the town to Kwale district by the then Taita district commissioner (DC) started.

The DC requested his Kwale counterpart to take over the administration of the town.

RESISTANCE

But due to resistance by the Taita community, after a series of meetings to discuss the relocation, the DCs agreed to revert the area to Taita district.

The elders say the colonial government failed to degazette the town and return it back to Taita, an issue they believe is being used by their neighbours to claim the town.

A resident, 67-year-old Zighe Mwatati, said her father, Mwatati Msinga, became chief soon after independence and administrated up to Landi ya Mwembeni where she says the boundary with Kwale district was.

She said the area which extends past Taru town was under Kasigau location and all residents used to report to her father for administrative services.

“My father became a chief from 1969 up to 1989. We used to live here and this area was under the then Taita district,”

“I remember we even used to see him distribute food aid to residents. The food donations were from Taita district,” she said.

Another resident, Ndunda Kamando, said her family were the original natives of the area.

PASTORALISTS

Ms Kamando said her father welcomed the Durumas who were pastoralists and who came to the area due to prolonged drought in Nyacha area in Kwale.

“They convinced my father they wanted a temporary accommodation but they ended up settling here and eventually tried to claim that this is their area,” she said.

Residents have accused the Kwale County government of trying to claim the inherited dispute without getting the correct facts from elders.

Ms Kamando said they have been trying to end the protracted boundary dispute.

She blamed the previous regime for allowing the dispute to drag on despite efforts by locals to resolve it.

POLITICIANS

The residents have also accused politicians of using the boundary row for political mileage.

They said the issue has been used as a campaign tool by leaders to attract votes from them.

“We travel to Miasenyi to vote. After the election the leaders vanish. We hope this new leadership will resolve the problem,” said Mwanahawa Eghwa.

She said politicians had been colluding with rogue administrators for their own financial benefits.

“We know some politicians were given tracts of land in this town for them to keep quiet about the matter,” Ms Eghwa claimed.

Another resident, Abraham Mwavula, said elders from the two counties had already settled the issue and urged the current political leadership to adopt the agreement.

AGREEMENT REACHED

Mr Mwavula said Njavungo (Taita Taveta) and Kaya (Kwale) concluded the matter in 2016.

“We have a document showing the agreement. There was no support from our politicians,” he said.

A recent visit by Taita Taveta leaders to the town flared up the boundary dispute with Kwale County terming the move as an act of aggression.

Although Governor Granton Samboja announced that his government will deploy revenue and enforcement officers to the disputed town, Nation has established that he is yet to do so.

“The problem with our leaders is that they are slow to act. We are ready to pay to Taita Taveta County because we have been suffering due to lack of services yet we pay taxes,” said a businessman Christopher Munyasa.

Mr Munyasa said traders are being forced to clean the town themselves since the county government has failed to do so.

“As you can see, the town is full of uncollected garbage. Why do we pay taxes if we fail to get the services we require,” he said.

When contacted, Kwale County Commissioner Julius Karuku refused to comment on the matter saying there is no dispute in the area.

"Contact the county government because we have no issue with the boundary at Mackinnon," he said.