How county loses revenue due to boundary disputes
Reuben Mwambingu @reubenmwambingu
Taita Taveta boasts a trail of natural resource wealth as defined by attractive flora and fauna in the expansive twin Tsavo National Park.
County is home to hundreds of rare birds species, butterflies and tens of thousands of reptiles and mammals, including the big five, all found in the Tsavo East and West national parks.
Besides the hospitality industry, the county also boasts of valuable gemstones including green garnet, colour change garnet, blue and red sapphires among others extracted in the mining fields nestled in the lowland areas.
With such mouth-watering wealth, one can only imagine a heaven on earth, at the mention of the county.
However, this is never the case as local leaders claim the region has never explored its full potential in terms of the resources at its disposal.
Taita Taveta leadership is concerned that neighbouring counties have often gate-crashed on their resources and took away a significant share of wealth.
For instance, Finance and Economic Planning Executive Andrew Mlawasi, says they could have lost revenue running into billions of shillings following its prolonged boundary dispute with three of its neighboring counties of Kajiado, Makueni and Kwale.
Mlawasi argues that the county has been losing between Sh40 million to Sh60 million each financial year as a result of the long-standing wrangles.
“When you take the case of Makueni, for example, apart from the businesses operations in Mtito Andei Town, there are numerous hotels within the Tsavo West National Park, which we ought to be benefitting from.
We are supposed to charge the hotels the single business permit charge, liquor licensing, and the par bed capacity charge.
All this revenue has been going to waste in spite that facts are clear on where the boundary lies,” explained Mlawasi in an interview with People Daily.
He observed that in both Mackinnon road and Mtito Andei towns, the county has been losing between Sh20 million to Sh30 million each.
The row involving Taita Taveta and its borders has been simmering for decades now, and has often attracted bruising wrangles accompanied by repeat episodes of mounting and pulling down of sign-posts by either counties.
Early June, the row took a fresh twist after Governor Granton Samboja’s administration vowed to deploy revenue officers at border townships of Mackinnon Road and Mtito Andei in the disputed Kwale and Makueni counties.
But in a statement, Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jnr termed the move as “direct provocation on the county.”
“On behalf of the people of Makueni, I urge Taita Taveta to desist from any acts or commissions that may lead to a breakdown of law and order,” Kilonzo stated.
He noted that the boundaries of all Counties are set out in the District and Province Act of 1992 which he said was adopted in the Kenya Constitution 2010
“In Chapter 17 of this act the Makueni and Taita Taveta boundaries are very clear,” he stated.
A report by the County Boundary Committee constituted on March 7, 2015 by the County Government of Taita Taveta established that the disputed Mtito Andei and Macknon Road are parts of Taita Taveta county.