By Alex Ndegwa
As tension remains high in Tana Delta, a dispute over boundary between Tana River and Garissa counties early this year in Parliament offers a glimpse into genesis of the crisis.
Defence minister Yusuf Haji pressed for elimination of land barrier so that the river marks the boundary between the two counties.
He proposed the point where Tana River County borders Ijara constituency to the west.
But MPs Dhadho Godhana (Galole), Abdi Nuh (Bura) and Danson Mungatana (Garsen) opposed the proposal, arguing it was an unconstitutional attempt to amend the boundary of Tana River County.
Instead, they wanted the status quo maintained with the boundary between Tana River and Garissa counties being the three-mile strip across the river to the west of Ijara Constituency.
The Justice and Legal Affairs committee had recommended the western border of Ijara Constituency be shifted from the three-mile strip to Tana River.
The committee detailed the amendment in its report on the proposed boundaries of constituencies and wards by Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission. The amendment was, however, defeated. Debate on the report in Parliament on February 29 was heated with Haji and Godhana exchanging bitter words. Haji recounted how the boundary of Garissa, including Ijara, was shifted to three kilometres away from the river during the Lancaster House constitutional talks.
The minister emphasised the world over, physical features like rivers and mountains were recognised as boundaries.
“All I am asking is that justice should be done. We should be treated like Kenyans and be allowed access to the river just like the people of Tana River so that the boundary becomes the river,” Haji said.
At one point, Godhana interjected claiming the adjustment moved the border from five to three kilometres away in favour of cushites.