Counties across the country could soon each have a distinct and well-marked boundary if a Bill before the Senate seeking to define the boundaries of counties is adopted by MPs.
The County Boundaries Bill of 2023 wants a legal framework established in law to allow each county to draw up its boundary and reduce conflicts over resources.
The Bill before the Senate also seeks to establish a framework for revising and altering county boundaries to resolve conflicts as may be determined from time to time.
The proposed law, sponsored by Homa Bay senator Moses Otieno Kajwang’, argues that while the Constitution provides for the existence of the 47 county governments, it neither sets out the boundaries of the counties nor does it cross refer the boundaries to any other law.
In the absence of such provisions in the Constitution, the Bill argues, reliance has been placed on the provisions of the Districts and Provinces Act of 1992 (Cap 105) in determining the boundaries of counties in Kenya which were previously districts under the said Act.
It says this has often led to conflicts over the delimitation of boundaries in certain counties, as has been witnessed in the devolved units such as Kisii and Nyamira and Kisumu and Vihiga, among others.
“This will cure the challenge in relation to the current reliance on the provisions of the boundaries of districts reposed in the Districts and Provinces Act which are deemed to the boundaries of the corresponding counties,” the Bill reads.
Kajwang’ argues that since no legal framework exists to provide a mechanism for altering county boundaries, such an amendment as provided by the Bill was necessary.
Article 188 of the Constitution mandates Parliament to approve the alteration of county boundaries on the recommendation of an independent commission.
“This Bill will therefore give effect to Article 188 of the Constitution as it sets out in detail how the boundaries of a county are to be altered,” Kajwang’ says in the Bill. “The Bill further ensures that a high threshold will have to be met by any party desiring to alter the boundaries of any given county.”
Since the promulgation of the Constitution, there have been multiple disputes between counties on boundary matters. However, there is no established and enforceable mechanism for resolving such disputes. (