Murang’a Governor Mwangi Wa Iria has announced his intention to push for a referendum aimed at establishing a framework for sharing natural resources between counties and the national government.
The county boss says only the referendum will bring to an end the emerging conflicts among the counties and the possible inter-counties wars which could claim lives as locals demand for their fair share of the natural resources.
The governor said he came up with the idea after his Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko threatened to demolish his house in Nairobi, saying the only way to avert such threats is coming up with a law showing the percentage of proceeds of the natural resources that the host county will be given.
"When I demanded for 25 percent of the revenue got from water sourced from Murang’a, Mr Sonko threatened to demolish my five-storey building in Nairobi. His statement could trigger violence between Murang’a and Nairobi as well as other counties that could demand for the same and hence the reason to push for a referendum to explain the modalities of sharing the resources," he said.
Speaking Monday at Ndakaini community stadium in Gatanga during a public participation forum on imposing a levy on Nairobi County for water coming from Murang’a, the governor said the revenue allocation agenda will also be an item in his referendum push, which he said will be aimed at equalising finances allocated to all counties.
"I am a second-term governor and I can authoritatively say that central Kenya counties are often underfunded in terms of revenue allocation and the referendum will also capture these concerns.
"In Murang'a, we have 1.2 million people but we receive Sh6 billion which if divided amongst the locals each can get Sh4,000 as compared to other counties with 200,000 residents and which get Sh12 billion which is equivalent to Sh60,000 if shared among individuals," the governor said.
The governor said it is the underfunding from the national government that compelled him to propose the imposition of a levy for a Murang’a water in order to bridge the gap.
Mr Wa Iria said his referendum push dubbed 'Rasilimali Initiative' will start next week when he will be asking locals to append their signatures on the list of items which he wants included in the referendum question.
He said almost every county has its natural resource and it is only fair to have clear guidelines on how the resources should be shared without creating animosity between the county and national governments.
On Mr Sonko's threats, the governor said he is ready to be the sacrificial lamb and dared the Nairobi governor to demolish his building at the earliest opportunity if that is the only way Murang’a people will have water.
But the governor retracted his earlier threat of cutting off water supply to Nairobi, saying he made the remarks when he was angry.
He instead said there are two options for Murang'a people.
One would be to have water through the 25 percent proposal.
The second option would be to have two parallel outlets at Ndakaini Dam with one take water to Nairobi while the other serves Murang’a residents.
"Should Nairobi feel they don't want to share with us the revenue they get from water, we shall buy pipes and get Ndakaini water so that we also benefit,” he said.
Mr Wa Iria added that the public views would be considered during a dialogue proposed by the President to decide how Murang’a county could benefit from the water.