• Gatanga Water and Sanitation Company has proposed that charges for up to six units of water be charged Sh120, up from Sh33 per unit.
• Domestic consumers who use between seven to 20 units of water currently pay Sh50 per unit and will be required to pay Sh135 should the new charges be adopted.
Residents of Gatanga constituency have rejected proposals by Gatanga Water and Sanitation Company (Gatawasco) to raise water tariffs.
The company has written to Water Services Regulatory Board (WASREB) seeking to raise water charges in a bid to raise funds to expand its infrastructure.
The company has proposed that charges for up to six units of water be charged Sh120, up from Sh33 per unit.
Domestic consumers who use between seven to 20 units of water currently pay Sh50 per unit and will be required to pay Sh135 should the new charges be adopted.
Charges for 21 to 50 units will rise from Sh65 to Sh150 per unit, 51 to 100 units will cost Sh165 per unit up from Sh80; 101 to 300 units will be charged Sh180 from Sh100 while over 300 units of water will be charged Sh190 up from Sh130 per unit.
The charges will also apply to multi-dwelling and commercial premises.
Public schools on the other hand will pay Sh135 per unit for up to 600 units of water, up from Sh40 they are currently being charged.
Units from 601 to 1,200 will be charged Sh165 from Sh50 per unit and any water consumed over 1,200 units will be charged Sh190 per unit up from Sh90.
The company said the proposed new tariffs will be effective from July this year to 2029.
The company explained that it plans to undertake Sh41 million investment that will improve its service delivery in the period.
In response, WASREB instructed the company to ensure it broadcasts a notice about the proposed tariffs in at least one radio station broadcasting in the locality and conduct public participation.
"Gatawasco shall provide a suitable venue for the physical meeting that is accessible to the public and provide these details in its response. WASREB will advise on the appropriate date," a letter by acting CEO Julius Itunga read in part.
However, county assembly’s deputy speaker Moses Gachui termed the new charges outrageous saying they will make the lives of locals even harder.
Gachui said most residents are already grappling with hard economic times and will be unable to raise the new charges.
The deputy speaker who is also the Kihumbu-ini MCA said the current water coverage in Gatanga Subcounty is 70 per cent and that the company should first focus on connecting all homes before raising the charges.
"It has been brought to my attention that the company’s board is attempting to review the tariffs upward without following the due process…and thus willingly attempting to evade the procedure as set out by the law.”
Speaking at Kihumbu-ini market on Thursday, Gachui said the company operates in a rural area and that the financial status of most residents cannot allow them to pay more for water.
The proposals, he noted, will lead to many of the homes being disconnected from the supply chain and deny them their constitutional right to basic needs.
The deputy speaker called for an elaborate public participation to allow residents to give their input before the new charges are effected saying the company should have started by involving consumers before writing to WASREB.
“Our request is that the proposals will be suspended until such a time that the economic environment will allow people to pay more,” he said, adding that the company should not be geared towards making profits as it is a public entity.
"An average home that has cows consumes between nine and 20 units, and will now be paying three times what they have been paying," he said.
Should resident's complaints fall on deaf ears, the MCA said he will petition the county assembly’s committee on water recommending that WASREB be dissolved for failing to prioritise residents’ interests.
Margaret Waithera, a resident of Gaikamba village, said the company rations water supply and that they only get consistent supply during rains.
This, she said, is despite the fact that the company continually imposes monthly charges, saying higher charges are intolerable and will force them to start fetching water from rivers.
"This will hit elderly women even more. How will they be able to pay more yet they are already struggling?” she asked.