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February 17, 2019

Attempts to take over Murang’a water operations illegal – firms

Muwasco chairperson Peter Mung addressing a water stakeholders' forum at Kiawambeu treatment plant.
Muwasco chairperson Peter Mung addressing a water stakeholders' forum at Kiawambeu treatment plant.

Four water companies in Murang’a have called the government’s decision to take them over “unlawful”.

The companies are Murang’a, Kahuti and Gatamathi Water and sanitation companies and Gatanga Community Water Company.

Their leaders have said they are still agents of the water services boards, which are still operating under the national government.

In a stakeholders’ meeting held on Friday at Muwasco’s Kiawambeu Treatment Plant, the companies said Tana and Athi water service boards are yet to transition into Water Works Development Agencies as required by law.

“The arrangement between the water service boards and water companies continues. The companies are still required to fulfill their obligations to the boards,” the resolutions signed on Friday by the chairmen read.

“The intention of the county government to operate water companies directly as its departments is ill-informed and unlawful.”

They asked the county government to commence construction of the Sh300 Murang’a Water Institute, saying it will give youths water engineering skills.

Governor Mwangi wa Iria had dismissed the project being spearheaded by Muwasco, saying the company’s core role is to provide water to Murang’a town residents.

Wa Iria had said the money should have been committed to expanding water connections.

Water skills, he said, can be taught in technical and vocational training centres that the national government is constructing in every constituency.

But Muwasco’s chairman Peter Munga said the institute will be a business opportunity and returns will be ploughed back into water projects all over the county.

“This college will also provide an opportunity for residents to sell their farm produce and boost the local economy. These plans can, however, not be realised if water is going to be given free,” he said.

Munga said all the chairmen will meet Water PS Joseph Wairagu next week to get a cheque for immediate commencement of the project.

The college will have five storeys and will be completed in one and a half years, he said.

Munga said the company will revert to its former tariffs after the conclusion of a case in which Water Services Regulatory Board (Wasreb) has sued the county government for reviewing water preserve of the board. Wa Iria had reduced standard water charges from Sh330 to Sh200 and reconnection fees from Sh500 to Sh100.

Late last month, Munga sued Wa Iria at the Labour and Employment Court for interfering with the operations of Muwasco and appointing Joseph Kimura to replace him as chairman. Munga obtained orders barring Wa Iria from implementing Kimura’s appointment.

Wa Iria told the court water is constitutionally devolved as ruled by High Court in Murang’a the county’s ability to implement the function may be gradual.

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