Narok Governor Patrick Ntutu (pictured) has pleaded for more time to respond to audit queries raised against the Narok Water and Sewerage Service Company by the Auditor General.
Mr Ntutu who appeared before Senate County Public Investment and Special Funds Committee led by Chairperson Godfrey Osotsi (Vihiga Senator) said that he has put measures in place to revive the loss-making company.
The governor told the committee that he sent home seven directors of the company which has been making losses with its current liabilities standing at Sh78.7 million exceeding current assets of Sh55.6 million resulting in a negative working capital of Sh23.2 million.
“I would like to acknowledge before this committee that we have a huge problem at Narok Water and Sewerage Services Company. Before coming here, I had already started the process of ensuring it gets back on its feet. I would be coming back with answers when invited next,” he said.
Ntutu explained that the current operational tariff for the company subsidy was initiated since its inception in 2006 with the county government's only support being payment of electricity with the inclusion of sewer service charge in the new tariff and ring-fencing of revenue in subsequent periods.
He told the committee that the company has been facing challenges occasioned by the old billing system which is manual and unintegrated but it is in the process of acquiring a new and more customized billing system under the Kenya Towns sustainable water supply programme.
The governor noted that the company had established an internal audit unit to mitigate risk and prepare the risk management strategy since it lacked a policy that guides the assessment and evaluation of risk.
“The company acknowledges the importance of information technology security policy and has laid initial plans to develop the ICT policy framework to enable the company to realise its long-term ICT strategic goals so that it can effectively manage its affairs in a modern way,” said Ntutu.
The committee also wanted the county government to explain the nature of agreements between the Kenya Airport Packing Services (KAPS) which was collecting revenue in a larger section of Maasai Mara Game Reserve and local conservancies, to establish whether it was getting value.
Mr Osotsi asked the governor to avail all the agreements the county entered into with the two entities so that their legal team can peruse them to establish if there are any legal bottlenecks that could cost it Sh800 million if they terminated the contract.
The committee chairperson acknowledged that Ntutu was damned if he maintains the contracts and damned if he terminates them, and he has to seek legal advice to navigate around the thorny issue.
“The committee is in agreement that Narok governor and his team should take time and go through the audit queries raised in the Auditor General report and come up with proper answers when he appears before us on a date that they will be notified by the committee,” said Osotsi.
Narok Senator Ledama ole Kina pressed the governor to reveal if there were other contracts of which he said that he only knew of two.
Kisumu Senator Tom Ojienda asked Ntutu to ensure that the water company CEO paves way for new blood to save it from collapse.
Kiambu Senator Karungo Thangwa asked the governor to ensure a proper legal framework is in place before restructuring the company and the contracts for revenue collection by KAPS.