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DECADES-OLD

Emotive Maseno boundary row features in Vihiga campaigns

A Senate committee that handled the dispute last year failed to resolve the long-standing conflict despite months of investigations.

In Summary

• Vihiga UDA senator candidate Jackson Swadi has promised to amicably resolve the dispute, if elected next week.

• Nominated MP Godfrey Osotsi has asked Kisumu and Vihiga counties to resolve the issue amicably.

Vihiga UDA senator candidate Jackson Swadi at Mazuu Salvation Church in Mbale town
Vihiga UDA senator candidate Jackson Swadi at Mazuu Salvation Church in Mbale town
Image: MARTIN OMBIMA

The boundary row over the location of Maseno town is beginning to dominate Vihiga campaigns.

Vihiga UDA senator candidate Jackson Swadi has promised to amicably resolve the dispute, if elected next week.

The decades-old dispute resulted from whether Maseno town is in Kisumu or Vihiga.

A Senate committee that handled the dispute last year failed to resolve the long-standing conflict despite months of investigations.

In a report, the Devolution and Intergovernmental Relations Committee concluded there was no legal framework for the review of county boundaries.

“The Senate observed that there is currently no sufficient legal framework to address the alteration of county boundaries,” the committee said.

The team noted that county boundaries can only be altered pursuant to Article 188 of the Constitution that stipulates legislation to create a commission to review county boundaries.

Swadi promised to end the dispute in a diplomatic way, saying the boundary row has been there for years and the current crop of leaders seem not to be bold enough to face the issue.

Speaking to the Star on the phone, Swadi said only the Senate has the capacity to handle the issue.

“We are experiencing boundary disputes due to poor legislation. If elected Vihiga senator, I will legislate laws that will protect our county's boundaries. This will be developed further to protect our country’s boundaries,” he said.

Swadi said for his plan to work, he must be in government, not in the opposition. He said a leader with good plans will always be hampered when he/she is in the opposition.

Roots Party presidential candidate George Wajackoyah has also promised to have the town included as part of Vihiga if elected.

Vihiga senator candidate Jackson Swadi
Vihiga senator candidate Jackson Swadi
Image: MARTIN OMBIMA

In a previous rally in Vihiga, Kenya Kwanza team promised to resolve the dispute and give Vihiga people justice for their "grabbed land" if Deputy President William Ruto becomes president.

ANC party leader Musalia Mudavadi, who led the team, said the Maseno boundary dispute has been a big problem and it will be easy to solve if Ruto wins the presidency.

"Maseno boundary has been a big problem for our people in Vihiga. Our leaders, starting from Eric Khasakhala, Wilson Mukuna, Sheldon Muchilwa, and Kennedy Marende among others, have tried without success,” Emuhaya MP Omboko Millemba said.

Luanda Township MCA Tom Atingo, who is eyeing Luanda constituency seat, said Kisumu county is still provoking the people of Vihiga by erecting illegal signposts in Vihiga county territory.

"I will continue to fight for the Maseno boundary if elected Luanda MP. Kisumu is grabbing our land by erecting illegal sign​​posts in our territory," Atingo said.

A few months ago, Kisumu erected a signpost near Maseno North ACK Church written 'Welcome to Kisumu County'. 

When Kisumu Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o unveiled Maseno town last year, politicians from Vihiga said he should have waited until the boundary dispute was resolved.

UDA supporters in Hamisi subcounty
UDA supporters in Hamisi subcounty
Image: MARTIN OMBIMA

Nominated MP Godfrey Osotsi has asked Kisumu and Vihiga counties to resolve the issue amicably.

He said the Senate should move with speed and look into inter-counties boundary disputes to end conflicts.

Kisumu West MP Olago Aluoch urged Kisumu county to formulate friendly policies that can consolidate the relationship between Kisumu and Vihiga residents.

He asked Luhyas and Luos in Maseno to live in peace and share resources​.

Olago said inequitable sharing of resources in Maseno has led to conflicts between the Luhyas from Vihiga and Luos from Kisumu.

He cited Maseno University, Maseno Hospital, Maseno town and Maseno School as some of the resources communities in the area should enjoy equitably.

Olago said when there are job opportunities in such institutions, they should be distributed equally between the two communities.

He warned Kisumu against displacing people for town expansion, saying it may fuel animosity among residents. 

Olago said residents should remain in their plots and if there is a need to move them it should be after an agreement.

Edited by A.N

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