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Laikipia residents protest move by WARMA to block water intakes

By James Munyeki | February 14th 2019
By James Munyeki | February 14th 2019

For the second day, residents of Kiamariga Village yesterday staged a protest after a State agency destroyed four water intake points.

Business at Mutara trading centre was paralysed as residents took to the streets to demand the Government's intervention to stop the actions by the Water Regulatory Management Authority (Warma) on River Mutara.

The protestors accused the Warma officials of acting in total disregard of the law, adding that the decision left them facing the risk of incurring huge losses from failed harvests.

Residents who spoke to the media said they were disappointed that Warma had not consulted them before targeting the intake points, whose maintenance they claimed to be paying for.

They also alleged that a powerful politician in Government who had recently acquired a ranch in the area was behind the move.

Washington Ngatia, said residents were grappling with myriad challenges, among them insecurity, human-wildlife conflict and now the water crisis.

Mr Ngatia urged the Government to come to their rescue and help them save their crops from drying up.

"The authority has destroyed the water intakes, saying it was part of conserving Mutara River. We are left without water and our crops are drying up as a result," he said.

Mathenge Wanderi, a farmer, accused the local leadership of playing politics with the water problem, which meant that residents had to walk several kilometres in search of the commodity.

Chief James Eleman, however, told the residents that it was Government policy to manage water usage, especially during the dry season, to ensure that residents who lived downstream did not lack the commodity.

Laikipia Senator John Kinyua said that as much as the public was being asked to respect the law, the Constitution provided that public participation be conducted before such decisions were made.

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