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Economy

Charity Ngilu map puts Konza counties on collision path

Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana (standing) and Senator Mutula Kilonzo Junior. PHOTO | FILE
Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana (standing) and Senator Mutula Kilonzo Junior. PHOTO | FILE  NATION MEDIA GROUP

Lands secretary Charity Ngilu has published an official map of Kenya showing county boundaries hoping to extinguish territorial disputes that have dogged the devolved government units since their inception six months ago.

The map, which was released to the public Tuesday, seeks to resolve, among others, the boundary dispute over Konza Technopolis involving Machakos, Makueni and Kajiado counties.  

In a strongly worded statement accompanying the map, Mrs Ngilu warned county governments squabbling over resources against altering the map and its boundaries.

“(Any person) desirous of making a map of the Republic of Kenya or a graphic reorientation of the whole or part of the Republic of Kenya on any format of display or medium shall do so based on the official map,” the minister said.

“Please note that anybody found making alterations to the national and international boundaries of the Republic of Kenya as published by the Survey of Kenya, the official national mapping agency, will face the full force of the law.”

Publication of the map came weeks after the minister met the Kajiado, Machakos and Makueni governors, who have been fighting over the location of the Sh850 billion Konza technology city.

The governors and their constituents have claimed to different portions of the planned city sparking controversy that is threatening to derail the project set for commissioning in December.

Mrs Ngilu, who is currently in the spotlight over claims of irregular appointments in her department, now seems keen to stamp her authority on the matter and several others across the country.

In August, Makueni residents led by their county representatives, accused Machakos leaders of colluding with Lands ministry officials to alter the county boundaries.

Makueni residents and their leaders held a demonstration along the busy Nairobi-Mombasa Road, near the project site, to push the government to intervene.
The protesters said a large part of the project is in Makueni with sections extending to Machakos and Kajiado counties.

Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Junior Tuesday rejected the newly published map, saying it has been the cause of the protests.

“The map is what we have been protesting all along since it moves one ward in Kilome Constituency to Machakos county and another ward in Machakos has been moved to Makueni,” he said.

“The net effect of this interchange is that Konza city now seems to be in Machakos County — a move aimed at disenfranchising our county.”

Mr Kilonzo Junior said the map is contrary to what is stated in the Konza Technopolis Development Authority (KOTDA) Bill, which describes Konza as the “parcel of land known as Land Reference Number 9918/5 located within Makueni County measuring approximately 2023.6 hectares.”

“(It) shall include a buffer zone of 10 kilometres radius and such other land as the Authority may from time to time acquire.”

It also says that the Makueni governor, or his designate, shall sit on the board, leaving out his Kajiado and Machakos counterparts, implying that Makueni county was to be the key beneficiary of revenues from the project expected to be complete by 2017.

Konza City is meant to be part of the Special Economic Zones that are expected to replace the Export Processing Zones (EPZ) and hopefully create more than 200,000 jobs.

The project is being executed through public-private partnerships (PPP) where the government provides land and builds key infrastructure such as road, railway, water, telecoms and sewerage systems as well as security.

Mrs Ngilu and all three governors did not respond to queries on the new map. Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua had in an earlier interview referred all queries on the subject to Fred Matiang’i, the ICT secretary.

Dr Matiang’i, who is the sponsor of the KOTDA Bill, now has to work with his Lands counterpart to come up with clear boundary demarcations that may appease the warring parties or divide them even further.

The ICT secretary has in the past said that discussions were ongoing to develop a framework for revenue allocation to the three counties — signalling that the description in the Bill could be amended.

Konza Technopolis Development Authority chairman John Ngumi Tuesday admitted to having seen “several versions of the area’s map” even as he called for a speedy resolution of the matter.

“I do not want to contribute to the confusion that has been caused by both the Lands office and Makueni county governments as both have differing maps,” he said.

Mr Ngumi said that the 10-kilometre boundary buffer around Konza has ended up touching all the three counties, sparking the squabbles but insisted that the issues would be resolved with the onset of the first phase in December.

“When construction begins, we could even hive off the main city and turn it into a national property leaving the counties to earn revenue from other areas within their jurisdiction.” 

Julius Rotich, the deputy director of survey at the Lands ministry, said the aggrieved parties had not requested for his department’s involvement in the matter, adding that the department had the demarcations information “down to the accuracy of one millimetre.”

County boundaries and revenue sharing disputes are not peculiar to Konza City.

Elsewhere the governor of Meru County is also caught up in a similar row with his counterpart from Isiolo. Meru accuses Isiolo of encroaching on its territory.

Kericho and Kisii residents have also been haggling over borders along the tea plantations with each party arguing that the other has encroached on their land.

In Nyanza, governors James Ongwae (Kisii) and John Nyagarama (Nyamira) have both laid claim to Keroka, a busy and famous township located on the Kisii-Nairobi highway.

The disputes have extended to natural resources in Murang’a where the county government has been trying to impose a levy on water drawn from Ndakaini dam that supplies about 500m cubic metres of water to Nairobi.

A similar conflict is brewing in Nyandarua where the county government has been demanding fees for any water drawn from the Sasumua Dam.

Sasumua dam supplies most of its water to Nairobi — through a reservoir in Kabete — and Nakuru town. The two dams supply the bulk of Nairobi water, making any policies restricting access sensitive.

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