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September 19, 2018

Labour Court restores Munga as Muwasco boss, restrains Wa Iria

Murang'a water and sanitation company's board of directors chairman Peter Munga addressing stakeholders at the company's offices in Murang'a town on Monday.
Murang'a water and sanitation company's board of directors chairman Peter Munga addressing stakeholders at the company's offices in Murang'a town on Monday.

A court has stopped Murang’a governor Mwangi Wa Iria from taking over the Murang’a Water and Sanitation Company.

Union officials warned that water is not being treaed.Connections have been disconnected and reconnected, there have been claims of sabotage and company workers have staged protests.

The restraining orders were obtained in Nyeri yesterday by company chairman Peter Munga, whom Wa Iria sought to replace.

Employment and Labour Relations Court Justice Byram Ongaya also restrained the governor from implementing a gazette notice appointing business expert Joseph Kimura as interim chairman.

The judge allowed Munga to continue serving as Muwasco’s chairman, pending a hearing in Nairobi on Monday, September 3.

The judge also prohibited Wa Iria and his officers from interfering with the firm’s directors or its staff and directed the Murang’a police boss to fully implement the order.

Wa Iria and Munga have been adversaries for many years. The urgent petition was presented to the court on August 22. The governor was the only respondent.

Munga said the governor was interfering with the company, contrary to the Companies Act, the Water Act and other regulations.

The gazette notice published on August 15 read: “The governor, pursuant to constitutional provisions and rulings and orders of the Murang’a superior court, restating the county’s powers to take over water and sanitation services, appoints Joseph Kimura interim chair of Muwasco. Effective immediately, Munga ceases to be the chairman.”

Kimura’s appointment and Wa Iria’s decision to absorb the firm’s staff into its payroll sparked protests by workers. They switched off water supply to Murang’a town on Monday and Tuesday. Residents had to fetch water from the Murare River, before the water was reconnected.

Yesterday, the Kenya County Government Workers Union demanded Wa Iria be arrested and prosecuted. Secretary general Roba Duba claimed Wa Iria oversaw “torture” of workers and vandalising of property.

“He comes to company premises and vandalises property, chases away staff, fights them physically with goons and some MCA supporers.

“This is completely unacceptable ... misconduct and abuse of office,” Duba said yesterday in Nairobi.

“We are taking industrial and llegal action. But first, we are telling the IG to arrest this governor.”

KCGWU secretary Matilda Kimetto said vandalism of equipment and political interference are jeopardising supply.

“Water is not being treated, servers have been vandalised, the whole organisation has been destroyed. Bursts and non-revenue water are not being addressed meaning service delivery is dead,” she said.

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