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Murang'a residents suffer as county waters wars continue

Sunday September 30 2018

Murang'a Governor Mwangi Wa Iria

Murang'a Governor Mwangi Wa Iria addresses locals at Ihura Stadium on September 28, 2018. Residents of Murang'a have continued to suffer following the tug of war between the county government and water companies over the payment of bills. PHOTO | NDUNG’U GACHANE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

NDUNG’U GACHANE
By NDUNG’U GACHANE
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Residents of Murang’a County have continued to suffer following the tug of war between the county government and the water companies over the payment of bills.

Governor Mwangi Wa Iria issued an executive order urging water consumers not to pay their bills until his administration gives a new account through which they will pay while the water companies have continued to disconnect those who fail to meet payment deadline.

While justifying his orders, Mr Wa Iria said he had not contracted the water companies to collect revenue on the county’s behalf from consumers, adding that his administration is in the process of coming up with a new account through which all the revenue collected from water consumers will be channelled.

INFLATED BILL

One such victim of the water wars is Martin Mwaura whose water was disconnected after failing to pay Sh4,200 monthly bill to the Murang’a Water and Sanitation Company (Muwasco).

According to Mr Mwaura, he normally pays Sh1,500 monthly but wanted an explanation from the water firm why his bill rose to Sh4,200 but the company maintained that he had to pay for the bill.

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He said he sought assistance from the county government following the governor’s orders and the newly employed plumbers moved in swiftly and reconnected water back.

TOOK AWAY METER

But Muwasco returned and took away the meter and the water pipe belonging to the landlord but this time urged him to pay for Sh707 instead of Sh4,200.

“This tells you that the company had made a mistake in the first place. What criteria did they use to lower the water bill and yet they had not looked at the meter. They also slapped me with a fine of Sh30,000 for “illegally reconnecting water” which I did not,” Mr Mwaura said, noting the seven days he was given to pay up have lapsed and is now waiting for the company’s next course of action.

But Muwasco insists very few people have heeded to Mr Wa Iria’s directive, saying 82 percent of their consumers have settled their bills.

“Consumers have paid their bills in large numbers and we are not affected by the governor’s directives; we are very grateful to them,” water engineer Daniel Nganga, through the company’s public relations officer Jacob Mbuthia, said.

At the same time, Nation has established that a section of Mjini residents and some parts of Mukuyu have no access to water after it was disconnected.

PLUMBERS ARRESTED

About 12 plumbers employed by the county government to reconnect water in homes where water companies have disconnected it have been arrested and charged with illegal connection and have been slapped with bonds of Sh500,000 each.

On Saturday, the governor said he would organise a fundraiser to secure the freedom of the plumbers, accusing the police of imposing trumped up charges against them.

Water and Irrigation CEC Paul Macharia has been arrested and charged with robbery with violence and released with Sh200,000 cash bail.

Mr Wa Iria said he would buy whistles for the residents so that whenever a water company employee comes to disconnect water, they blow them so that members of public can arrest them and take them to the police.

“They are disconnecting water illegally without my approval and utter disregard of my directives and since their action is illegal, my administration will buy whistles to all homes to ensure that whenever they come disconnecting water, residents blow the whistles for them to be arrested,” he said.

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