Having the 48th county in Kenya may require an amendment to the constitution.
And with the recent death of Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) push to amend the laws, this may not be within a foreseeable sight.
But Kuria East Member of Parliament Marwa Kitayama thinks otherwise.
In an exclusive interview with Lake Region Bulletin, the legislator has ignited debate on the need to have the 48th county, Kuria County.
The Kuria community is the second largest community in Migori County, occupying two sub counties; Kuria East and Kuria West.
During that time, there were a total of 57 districts. The proponents of the presidential system wanted a smaller number as opposed to the parliamentary system and that is how we arrived at 47 counties,Kitayama
In the run up to the 2010 constitution, Kuria District was merged with Migori District to form Migori County.
But Kitayama thinks Kuria could have had a stand alone county.
He claims that when the debate on the new 2010 constitution was in the air, his spirits were high that Kuria will have its own county.
However, he expressed his disappointment as differences emerged among proponents of the 2010 constitution.
According to the legislator, concerns about counties being too many was raised and hence the proponents settled on folding up some districts to form counties.
“During that time, there were a total of 57 districts. The proponents of the presidential system wanted a smaller number as opposed to the parliamentary system and that is how we arrived at 47 counties,” he recounts.
The lawmaker claims that in the Kilifi draft of the 2010 constitution, Kuria was counted as a county.
However, it was later changed at the Bomas of Kenya something he connects to a technical hitch on the gazettement.
“The delayed gazettement of Kuria as a district cost us a county,” he said.
He says Kuria meets and surpasses the minimum requirements to be a county.
For instance, he challenges the issue of the population being a hindrance, citing that Kuria is more populated compared to Lamu and Isiolo counties.
“The 2019 population census shows we are more populated than two counties, Kuria is ranked number 16,” he said.
As per the census of 2019, Lamu County recorded a population of 143,920 while Isiolo County has a population of 268,002.
However, the census data shows that the Kuria has a total population of 305,385 people.
This almost equates to the population of Samburu and Tana River counties having a population of 310,327 and 315,943 people consecutively.
Kitayama chided that the proposed ward fund in the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) will not have fully solved their problems as a community.
This he says cuts across other similar minority communities like the Kuria in Kenya.
“The problems that a minority people are facing in this country are beyond resources. A domicile community has more needs than resources,” says Kitayama.
The Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) proposal had ward development funds aimed to avail funds at the lower ward level.
We are capable of running a country forget about a county, it is about managing resourcesKitayama
However, Kitayama insists that with bad leadership at the helm of the resources, there is no surety that they will trickle down to people.
“As a community, we have little to no say in the county about any decision whatsoever,” says Kitayama while referring to the Kuria community in Migori County.
Apart from the government’s kitty of 15 per cent to the county government, Kitayama is adamant that Kuria can sustain itself from its internal revenue collection.
According to Kitayama, Kuria sub-counties are the highest contributors to the county revenues, starting from the Isebania border and Kehancha towns.
Similarly, in line with allocations from the national government, Kitayama adds that Kuria has arable land for farming that can feed the entire Kuria and Migori counties.
“We are capable of running a country forget about a county, it is about managing resources,” laughs off Kitayama.
According to Kitayama, the quest for power and to be in control of their resources is a key reason behind their calls.
“Which community does not want to have a governor?” he poses.
Because a county handles many things ranging from economy, culture, science and so many, we also want to handle our issues as a countyKitayama
He continue; “Because a county handles many things ranging from economy, culture, science and so many, we also want to handle our issues as a county.”
Amidst all the push and pull, Kitayama states that the little space they get will be used to keep the dialogue alive.
“For us to be heard we will always keep discussions active. Any platform where people discuss matter devolution and community developments, we will use that,” said Kitayama.
“We may not have a specific place to speak about Kuria County. It can be parliament, court and any other means,” he continued.