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Counties

Who owns Nyahururu? Counties' officials battle over town

The disputed building between Nyandarua and Laikipia Counties in Nyahururu town, on June 26, 2018. PHOTO  | WILLIAM OERI | NMG
The disputed building between Nyandarua and Laikipia Counties in Nyahururu town, on June 26, 2018. PHOTO | WILLIAM OERI | NMG 

Police in Nyahururu on Tuesday arrested two Laikipia County government employees who forcefully took over a building in the town that was being refurbished by the County Government of Nyandarua.

The two Laikipia County staff, Patrick Mureithi and Mr Samuel Kamande, were arrested after they forcefully broke into the building, Nyandarua North police boss Mr Timon Odingo

“On June 13 this year, security guards employed to man the building by the county government of Nyandarua reported that unknown persons had broken into the building in an effort to eject staff from Nyandarua County who were using the offices.

An investigation was launched to establish those behind the act that led to the arrest of the two,” said Mr Odingo.

He added that on Monday, it was reported that the two had broken into the building again and took away the broken padlocks.

“Our officers proceeded to the scene and upon further inquiry, arrested two officials who had for the second time invaded into the facility and destroyed the doors,” he said.

The police boss said the motive behind the incident has not been established as they only occupied and did not steal from the building, saying that they are treating the offence as malicious damage of property.

Condemned move

Meanwhile the Laikipia County government has condemned the move by police to arrest its workers over the disputed facility.

“The arrest of two Laikipia county officers by police in Nyahururu over the boundary dispute with Nyandarua is unfortunate and ill-informed.

"Nyahururu is in Laikipia. Nyandarua County declared a dispute before the Inter-Governmental Relations Technical Committee, which is the correct forum for dispute resolution between counties,” read a press statement from the office of the county director of communication.

The statement further stated that any action outside the lawful dispute resolution mechanism was not only poor judgment, but a blatant abuse of the law.

“In any case the National Police Service cannot arbitrate a dispute between counties,” it further stated.

According to the statement, Laikipia Governor Ndiritu Muriithi and his Nyandarua counterpart Mr Francis Kimemia have already met and handled the matter.

The two counties have been embroiled in a battle over control and ownership of the town.

The battle took another turn after the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock officials attached to Laikipia West sub-county forcefully took possession of the building that was being refurbished by Nyandarua County to accommodate the county’s soil testing laboratory and started using it as theirs.

During the forceful takeover, the staffs also ordered a constructor who had been contracted by Nyandarua County to put up a perimeter wall to stop the work immediately.

The county government of Laikipia has since announced plans to take over more buildings in the town that were being used by Nyandarua, including the AMS building.

Thompson's Falls

Present day Nyahururu town was formerly known as Thompson’s Falls. The town sprouted when the colonial railway line connected Nairobi to Laikipia region in the late 1920s.

Initially, little was known of the town, which now is at the centre of the battle between Laikipia and Nyandarua counties.

The first shops in the town were opened up by the Indians, who were frequent visitors to the Thompson’s Falls.

Nyahururu grew to become a bigger town over the years and at the advent of devolution, the town acquired a new significance.

Consequently, it became the centre of conflict for the two counties. Both Laikipia and Nyandarua lay claim on the town, which today boasts of several modern amenities.

Major institutions in the town include the Nyahururu County Referral Hospital, Nyahururu New Kenya Cooperative Creameries (KCC) and the Nyahururu Law Courts among others.

The colonial town’s well-established infrastructure is another advantage that has led to the two counties locking horns over its location.

Revelations that the town generates an estimated over Sh600 million annually in revenue has also seen leaders fight over its location.

Currently, the town is administered by the Laikipia County government.

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