• The county government last week published a gazette notice instructing all water companies’ managing directors to handover lists of their employees for absorption by July 31.
• The county has established a water corporation that will manage the sector while the companies will operate as its branches.
A fresh row has erupted over water management in Murang'a after workers defied an order to be included in the county payroll.
Murang'a water executive Paul Macharia last Thursday published a gazette notice asking all water firms’ managing directors to submit the list of workers to the county government for absorption.
The notice states that the county government enacted the Murang’a County Water and Sanitation Services Act which established the Murang’a Water and Sewerage Services Corporation. This is the sole legal entity mandated to provide water and sanitation services in the county.
Macharia said the five water companies in Murang'a ceased to exist as corporate entities and are now branches of the water corporation.
He directed all MDs to handover all their employees' payroll records to the acting chief executive officer of the corporation by July 31 ensure a smooth transition.
"All employees of the firms should report to the acting CEO of the corporation at the county headquarters. They need to provide their identification and employment details and get their formal letters of appointment by July 31,” the notice reads.
Employees who will not comply with the directive will be deemed to have forfeited their jobs. They will be assumed to have resigned from their positions.
But the workers dismissed the gazette notice, saying they are still employees of the water firms.
Chairman of Murang’a Water and Sanitation Company (Muwasco) workers’ union Francis Wainaina said they will not be cowed by threats of dismissal. They vowed to stay put.
Wainaina said they are legally appointed and their terms of employment are clearly spelt out in their letters.
“It should be noted that our reporting office remain as indicated in the service provision agreement and operating licenses of our companies,” he said.
“The water companies are registered under the Companies Act 2015 and any action of takeover or any other desired reform should be done within the legal framework.".
Wainaina said there are several cases pending in court involving the water companies and the county government. He said workers will not act in contempt of court until the cases are determined.
The workers asked the Water Services Regulatory Board to give its position.
On July 1, Wasreb instructed all water companies countrywide to change their institutional framework to reflect that they are owned by county governments.
A letter signed by chief executive officer Robert Gakubia asked the companies to ensure the process is initiated and the relevant resolutions.
He said the oversight of the water companies is the mandate of the Water executives in respective counties.
Macharia said Prof Kinandu Muragu has been appointed as the acting CEO of the corporation. He said he has the capability to steer the sector forward and ensure all Murang'a residents get clean water.
Muragu has a PhD in finance and is the chairman of Bandari Maritime Academy, which is mandated to develop the capacity to support Kenya’s Blue Economy.
(Edited by P. Wanambisi)