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Counties’ water dispute rages as CS calls for calm

By By BENARD SANGA | November 26th 2013
Governors chat during  a Water Resources Management Authority consultative forum at a Mombasa hotel, yesterday.  [PHOTO: OMONDI ONYANGO/STANDARD]


MOMBASA, KENYA: The rift between Mombasa County and neighbouring counties over the sharing of water resources has widened despite Ministry of Environment efforts to defuse the row.

Mombasa County which has no natural sources of water has been quarrelling with Taita Taveta and Kwale counties over demand by the two that it pays for the commodity supplied from them.

Taita Taveta governor John Mruttu yesterday remained adamant that levies charged on the commodity in Mombasa should be shared with his government because Mzima Springs which is one of the main sources of Mombasa’s water was located in his county.

This is despite assertion by the Ministry of Environment that water was a national resource managed by the national government and that counties cannot levy others for the commodity.

Mruttu was speaking in Mombasa on the sidelines of the ongoing governors meeting to deliberate on the sharing of the water resources in Mombasa.

“What we are saying is that the Sh20 charged per cubic metre by the Coast Water and Services Board in Mombasa should be shared with Taita Taveta. We are not saying that Mombasa should increase the levies to pay us; we are rooting for equitable sharing of proceeds from this resource,” he said.

Mombasa governor Hassan Ali Joho has maintained that water is a national resource and his county should not be charged.

Joho who was conspicuously absent in yesterday’s meeting has in the past said his government was ready to pay the neighbouring counties for the commodity. Cabinet Secretary for Environment Judy Wakhungu said several counties were currently embroiled in wrangles over water even as the country enters the dry spell.

She, however, said the Constitution stipulates that water is under the national government hence counties had no powers to levy others.

Seek advice

“It is the role of the national government to ensure that water is provided to all Kenyans. County governments do not own water resources. Governors that have differences over the resource should seek advice of the Water Resource Management Authority,” said Wakhungu.

A row has also emerged between Kitui and Machakos counties over the sharing of water from Masinga Dam.

According to Madera County Governor Ibrahim Roba, the differences on water would only be resolved once the new Water Act come into place.

“We recently deliberated on water because it is becoming a big issue between the counties where resources are located,” said Roba.

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