AVOID CONFLICT

Kakamega streamlines water law to serve residents better

Water Services Regulatory Board had last year warned its corporation was illegal

In Summary

• The Act repeals the Kakamega Water Act No 3 of 2019 which changed the Kakamega Water and Sanitation Company to Kakamega County Water and Sanitation Corporation. 

Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya signs the water and sanitation bill into law at the county headquarters on March 31
Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya signs the water and sanitation bill into law at the county headquarters on March 31
Image: HILTON OTENYO

The Kakamega administration has split up its water supply firm into two companies to serve rural and urban residents and meet national laws. 

The change was made through the enactment of the Kakamega County Water and Sanitation Services Bill 2021. 

The new law creates the Kakamega County Urban Water and Sanitation Company and Kakamega County Rural Water and Sanitation Company.

The Act repeals the Kakamega Water Act No 3 of 2019 which changed the Kakamega Water and Sanitation Company to Kakamega County Water and Sanitation Corporation. 

The Water Services Regulatory Board had last year warned that Kakamega Water and Sanitation Corporation, created by the 2019 law, was operating illegally.

The new law reverts the status of the county water provision agency to a company limited by shares from a corporation. 

The assembly passed the bill on March 18 and was signed into law by Governor Wycliffe Oparanya on March 31.

Oparanya said the new law will go a long way in improving efficiency in water and sanitation services across the county and it will increase revenue collection.

"Lack of proper legislation had hindered the growth and effective service delivery by the county water corporation and as a result, my promise to Kakamega people in my manifesto of ensuring the supply of piped water to majority under the Amatsi Khu-Mukuru slogan was not being achieved," he said.

The Act aligns the county service provider to the legal and regulatory framework provided by Wasreb. 

The board told Kakamgega in September last year that the water firm's corporation status had disconnected it from the national Water Act 2016.

Wasreb boss Robert Gakubia said that the contents and spirit of the Kakamega County Water Act No 3 of 2019 did not recognise national standards for water service provision.

"Contrary to the requirements of sections 158 and 159 of the Water Act 2016, the Kakamega County Water Act is devoid of the necessary linkages with the national water policy, national standards in corporate governance, standards and principles of commercial orientation that are key to sustainable water services,” Gakubia wrote to the Water and Environment executive.

Gakubia said that governance lapses in the Kakamega Water Act 2019 had resulted in a decline in financial and technical performance of Kacwasco.

The county government inherited the water company from the defunct Kakamega municipal council but changed it to a corporation. 

Kakamega county missed out on all grants to county governments by the Ministry of Water during the Covid-19 pandemic due to the legal conflict. 

Oparanya said that the company is owed Sh167 million by defaulters and urged the company to put stringent measures to recover the money and put it into proper use.

The law will give authority to the company to source external funding from development partners and donors.

Oparanya said the company will have authority to review water tariffs as the ones in use were adopted in 2002 and are not economically viable.  

The county chief said that the Smart Meter technology that is being piloted in Kakamega town and its environs has proved effective in revenue collection. It has sealed loopholes that saw the county lose millions of shillings in revenue.

He said that plans to roll out the new technology to other areas have been hindered by the unavailability of funds. 

 

(edited by o. owino)