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Governor Malombe in trouble over Sh1b advanced to water company

Kitui Governor Julius Malombe when he appeared before committee on County Public Investments and Special Funds on May 18, 2023. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

The Kitui county government has been put to task for advancing more than Sh1 billion to the Kitui Water and Sanitation Company (Kitwasco) since 2015 despite uncertainty over the ownership.

The Senate County Public Investment and Special Funds Committee has asked the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate the Sh173.9 million non-revenue water loss by the company, which has Sh500 million debts.

Governor Julius Malombe, who appeared before the committee chaired by Godfrey Osotsi (Vihiga), revealed that the county has been spending between Sh8 million and Sh10 million monthly to keep the company afloat.

"Financial support for the Kitui Water and Sanitation Company began during my first term in office in 2015 with its expenditure being Sh120 million annual, over the last eight years, the company has received approximately Sh960 million," said Dr Malombe.

Osotsi asked the governor to explain to the committee why the county government was content with spending the colossal amount of money to fund the water company for several years yet it was not owned by the county.

But Malombe asked the committee to consider the significance of the expenditure since residents are getting sufficient supply water.

Osotsi faulted the county government for failing to provide documents showing the ownership of the company to prove that public funds were well spent.

"The county has spent a lot of money in funding the activities of this company, there needs to be clear documents showing who owns this company so that it can be proven whether public funds have been spent well for the last eight years," he said.

According to a report by the Auditor General for the financial year ending June 2021, the county government did not provide details of the subscribers to the company and statement of guarantee as required by the Companies Act, 2015.

Malombe said the county owns Kitwasco through guarantee and not by shares as is required by the Water Services Regulatory Board guidelines.

The committee directed restructuring of the water firm board within 60 days, appointment of a substantive managing director and introduction of performance contracts in 30 days.