Governors fault CS for raising cost of water in new regulations


Nyandarua Governor Francis Kimemia when he appeared before the Senate County Public Account and Investment Committee (CPAIC) over audit queries at Parliament [Boniface Okendo, Stand

Governors have criticised a move by the Ministry of Water to raise regulatory charges on water companies tenfold.

The Council of Governors (COG) questioned Water Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki’s decision to unilaterally charge more for the precious commodity.

Nyandarua Governor Francis Kimemia, who is also the CoG chairperson of the water, forestry, and natural resources management committee, said they were left in the dark about the changes.

Mr Kimemia’s statement sent yesterday to newsrooms, said governors had no part in drawing up Legal Notice No. 168 (Water Services Regulations, 2021), which raises user charges from 50 cents per cubic metre to Sh5 for domestic use and livestock farming and would not support it.

“I wish to categorically state that the Council of Governors will not support these increments as doing so would be tantamount to denying the provision of accessible water and sanitation to Wanjiku,” he said.

The governor said allowing the new charges would be a setback in the fight against Covid-19 as this will affect access to water.

He said the new charges will compromise county governments' ability to guarantee access to water as a basic right.

“The council’s position is that the drastic increase of fees chargeable from 50 cents to Sh5 per cubic metre of water for domestic use and farming is a sure way of killing the rural economy where a majority of Kenyans reside,” said Kimemia.

CoG also said despite water service provision being a devolved function, they were not consulted.

“We call upon the Senate to consider the views raised by the Council of Governors during the formative stages of the regulations. Further, we urge Water and Sanitation CS to immediately embrace consultative engagements with all stakeholders to ensure a harmonious position on the way forward regarding the issue at hand,” said Kimemia.

He regretted that the pandemic has affected the income of most households.

“...increasing the cost of water will be tantamount to a denial of the right to clean and safe water in adequate quantities,” he said.

Kimemia said: “We have written to the National Assembly and the Senate seeking an urgent meeting to discuss this issue which if left unattended will hinder the provision of water and sanitation to the citizenry.”

The regulations were published by Ms Kariuki last Friday. The Water ministry also sent other legislation to Parliament - Water Resources Regulations and Water Harvesting and Storage Regulations.

The Water Services Regulations also requires water companies to top up an additional five per cent of the charges as the conservation levy.

Governors said water service providers would pass the additional cost to domestic water users.