County water firm picks new CEO three years later

A man cleans himself using water gushing from a broken water pipe. [File, Standard]

Kakamega County Water and Sanitation Company (KACWASCO) has finally picked a new chief executive officer after almost three years without a substantive holder of the office.

The company board appointed Michael Omondi who beat four contestants in an interview early this month.

Mr Omondi will take over from Mohammed AbdiKadir Abdi whose three-year troubled stay at the firm ended on March 30, 2023.

“Mr Omondi’s appointment takes effect once he is released from his current position at Siaya-Bondo Water and Sanitation Company (SIBOWASCO). His contract of three years is renewable based on performance and retirement age,” said KACWASCO board chairperson Boaz Bulimu.

He said the board expect the new CEO to drive Kakamega Governor Fernandes Barasa’s initiative of Amatsi Khumuliango (water at the doorstep) by connecting 800,000 locals to piped water before 2027.

“We expect his fast release by his current employer so that we can achieve our goals of seamless water service delivery to our residents,” said Mr Bulimu.

He added that Omondi has 10 years of experience in water engineering and the board is confident that he would turn around the company.

Omondi is currently CEO of SIBOWASCO and had previously worked at KACWASCO for seven years as a technical manager.

The frequent change of CEOs at the firm saw Joseck Maloba appointed acting CEO on April 1 after Abdikadir quit just months after a court reinstated him.

On February 16, 2023, the Employment and Labour Relations Court in Bungoma ordered the immediate reinstatement of Abdikadir who was suspended by former Governor Wycliffe Oparanya in May, 2021.

This was after he was alleged to have been involved in flouting tender guidelines in a Sh200 million containerised water project.

He was found innocent and the court ordered KACWASCO to pay him Sh5 million as part of the unpaid salary accrued since he was suspended in May, 2021. 

Justice Jemimah Wanza Keli ruled that the water company erred in suspending the official as he was not given an opportunity to be heard. 

Before Abdikadir was reinstated, Christabel Ashiono, who was a legal officer at the firm, stepped in as acting CEO. 

For the last two months, the company has been experiencing a decline in revenue collection linked to leadership wrangles and poor governance. 

According to the firm’s March revenue report seen by The Standard, the company had collected Sh16 million, down from Sh25 million collected in February. 

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