Residents back firms in water row with Governor Wa Iria

Conflict between the county government and water companies featured during public participation forums for the formulation of a water policy.

In Kiharu and Mathioya, the residents told the forums convened by the county assembly that the county government should stop interfering with operations of water companies that had delivered clean water since 2006.

They accused the county government of playing politics and defended Murang'a Water and Sanitation Company (Muwasco) and Gatamathi Water and Sanitation Company over their continued services.

Less than 20 people attended the forum presided over by Rwathia MCA Peter Mweri at Murang’a town social hall, where former mayor Mercy Kimwe and Murathi Magochi defended water companies, saying they should not be placed under the county government.

They told Mr Mweri that Governor Mwangi wa Iria's administration had failed the health sector and that he should not be trusted with water issues.

Efforts by Mweri to guide the meeting to order failed, as the public tore hard copies of the Bill.

Kimwe said before the companies took over the service provision, residents had suffered as they were forced to use untreated water exposing them to waterborne diseases.

“The county government should strengthen the water companies instead of taking over their management,” she said.

Murathi on his part said the protracted wrangles between the county government and water companies can be traced to millions of shillings that the national government channels through them to fast track water distribution.

Lawyer Kiroko Ndegwa said the draft policy before the county assembly was null and void.

The lawyer said he would go to court if the county assembly passed it. “The national water policy has not been completed, how come Murang’a will be the first to formulate the Bill to have control of the five water companies,” he said, adding that replacing chairpersons of the water companies was unconstitutional.

In the past five months, the governor has been on a war path with managements of the water companies that resisted attempts to place them under county public service board.

Water Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui said in September that the World Bank withheld a Sh130 million loan to Muwasco following unending disputes with the county government.

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water policyMurang'a Water and Sanitation CompanyMuwascowater cs chelugui