A rude shock greeted Murang’a water company workers on Tuesday morning when they found their offices closed, sand mounted at the gate and equipment towed to the Governor Mwangi Wa Iria's office.
Confused, they idled at parking bays of the Murang'a Water and Sanitation Company (Muwasco), wondering what to do.
Those who talked to the Nation on condition of anonymity cited supremacy wrangles between Mr Iria and outgoing Muwasco chairperson Peter Munga.
One said: “Look at us. We have nowhere to operate from as all the company equipment have been confiscated by the governor."
Mr Iria occasioned the takeover on Monday, a process that saw cars and motorcycles taken away and the workers asked to report to his office.
This move came days after he invited the management of Muwasco to his office and announced that he would absorb the employees into the county public service board, a move that they did not go down well with them.
Mr Iria has replaced Mr Munga, who served for 16 years, with environmentalist Joseph Kimura who will hold office in an acting capacity.
“I wrote a letter to Muwasco management and informed them of the decision to take over management. I instructed them to declare the assets of the company but they ignored my instructions," the governor told the Nation on Monday night.
"Any employee wishing to continue working with us should report to Maji House."
The county boss also said consumers will not make payments to Muwasco accounts as new ones will be opened.
Asked whether they wanted to work under the governor, the employees said he should let water companies function independently.
Two groups clashed during protests on Monday.
A faction allied to Mr Munga castigated the governor for taking over control of water companies while the other tore into Muwasco for disconnecting water supply.
The takeover started at 6pm and ended shortly before 9pm.
Water supply was disconnected amid the chaos, hours after the governor had it reconnected at the Gachocho main intake.
Technical Manager Robert Nduati explained that vandals destroyed the pipes at Gathamba, leading to wastage.
“There are some people who continue to sabotage water supply to express their dissatisfaction. The governor deployed county askaris to the main stations but the pipes were destroyed."
The workers also held protests for Mr Iria to promote Mr Nduati and reward him with Sh200,000 monthly salary.
The manager did not take part.
The row, which has been in court twice, started when Mr Iria declared intention to take over the water companies in Murang'a, saying water supply is a devolved function.
He also accused management of the water firms in Murang'a of embezzling funds and failing to deliver quality services to residents despite taking loans running into billions of shillings.