, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 19 – The Senate Committee on Lands and Natural resources has given the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), the Director of Physical Planning, the Director of Survey and the Lands Ministry two weeks to furnish it with the necessary paperwork outlining boundaries around the country.
While probing the demarcation of Konza City boundaries which is at the centre of a tussle between the counties of Machakos and Makueni with both claiming ownership, the committee chairman, Embu Senator Lenny Kivuti, admitted that there were many discrepancies in documentation of land across the country.
“There are a lot of disparities between the boundaries from the Independent Boundaries Commission and the boundaries known to the residents on the ground. It is important that the matter be addressed holistically,” Kivuti stated.
In July this year, the Senate was engrossed in a debate over the location of Konza Techno city after a ministerial statement which Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jr had requested, stated that the multi-billion shilling project was located in Machakos County, a situation that sparked outrage from Kilonzo.
While citing the Districts and Provinces Act of 1992, Kilonzo Jr insisted that the 5,000-acre piece of land was purchased by the government for the project from Malili ranch which is located in Makueni County.
And during Tuesday’s sitting by the lands committee, Kilonzo Jr maintained his stand.
“When the minister came back with the answer that Konza is in Machakos, I said that answer is not correct because the Act itself that is the basis of the 47 counties describes the boundaries in words. The map when you read it shows the one of the boundaries of Konza and Machakos is in Nairobi- Mombasa highway which is not part of the description of the Machakos -Makueni boundary and out of that discrepancy, that discrepancy then put Konza city in Machakos as opposed to Makueni,” Kilonzo Jr posed.
And seemingly supporting his sentiments, the representatives of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission hinted that during the limitation of boundaries, Machakos residents had intimated that they wanted Konza city to be put in Machakos.
The limitation of boundaries had been done by the now defunct Independent Boundaries Review Commission.
The IEBC however indicated that there are two types of boundaries; electoral and administrative boundaries and the electoral were meant to guide elections particularly in ensuring participation by residents.
“This committee does not want to be sitting every day looking at dispute after dispute; we would like to find a policy decision from IEBC to your mandate in a far as boundaries for wards, constituencies and for counties are concerned because those are the administrative units we have in Kenya today, in the devolved government,” Kivuti urged IEBC.
The electoral body however asked Parliament to make use Article 188 of the Constitution in order to deal with the outstanding land conflicts which date years back before independence.
The article deals with the boundaries of counties stating what informs alteration county boundaries.
It says, the boundaries of a county can be altered only by a resolution-
a) Recommended by an independent commission set up for that purpose by Parliament; and
b) Passed by-
i. The National Assembly, with support of at least two-thirds of all of the menders of the Assembly; and
ii. The Senate, with support of at least two-thirds of all the county delegations.
Most recently the country has been dealing with alleged grabbing of over 500,000 acres of land in Lamu County which has seen the title deeds of some 22 companies revoked.
The government has however been accused of witch-hunt after it stated that the land was grabbed during the era of the grand-coalition when Siaya Senator James Orengo was Lands Minister.
The Konza case is one among many which will be reviewed by the newly established National Land commission and the Lands Ministry.