Murang’a Governor Mwangi Wa Iria is threatening to go to court to force the government to allow the county’s residents access to water from the Ndakaini dam.
If he makes good his threat, he will exacerbate the wrangles over water resource development with Water Principal Secretary Joseph Irungu and leaders from Kiambu.
He accuses the PS of encouraging the residents to dig boreholes instead of clamouring for water supply from the dam.
“I’m going to court to stop these shenanigans,” the governor said.
The dam provides more than 80 percent of the water used by Nairobi city residents and Wa Iria has been pushing to have Murang’a people benefit from the resource.
“Denying us clean safe water from the Aberdares and then commissioning the drilling of boreholes in Murang’a is tantamount at laughing at us,” the governor said.
“Why do you want us to drink salty borehole water and give Nairobi fresh water?”
The governor quoted the 2016/17 audit report that showed that Nairobi Water and Sewerage Company loses 40 percent of the resource.
“Murang’a gives Nairobi water, then Nairobi loses half of it through fraud. Why can’t we keep the 40 percent they waste and give them the 60 percent they need?”
The Wa Iria-Irungu tussle has sucked in Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria, who has defended the PS and accused the governor of being high-handed.
“I will talk to the governor to stop these battles with the PS,” Mr Kuria said at an event in Kigumo, Murang'a.
In his response, Mr Wa Iria accused the MP of elitism and told him to keep off the issue, because he is “one of the beneficiaries”.
“Whenever Kuria tours Murang’a, he comes with bottled water bought in Nairobi. That water is from Murang’a. He swims in swimming pools filled with Murang’a water. He should keep off water issues in Murang’a,” said the governor.
He claimed the PS is angling for the Murang’a gubernatorial seat in 2022 and vowed to ensure he does not get it.
“Mr Irungu has been crisscrossing the county pretending to launch already existing water projects to garner votes in 2022. I can assure him that although my term will have expired, I will ensure that I create a level ground for all the contenders,” Mr Iria told the Nation.
He dared the PS to resign and actively engage in local politics.
But Mr Irungu dismissed the governor’s claims, saying his only business in Murang’a is water provision, in line with the mandate of his docket.
“My business in Murang’a is only provision of water to the residents, a mandate that I will faithfully and dutifully perform,” said the PS while commissioning a borehole at Kenol in the county.
Mr Wa Iria and Mr Irungu’s differences go back to the 2017 General Election and the water companies “take-over”.
In 2017, the governor accused Mr Irungu of trying to sabotage his re-election, misusing his position then as undersecretary in the Ministry of Interior and National Co-ordination to harass him and his followers while favouring his arch-rival Jamlek Kamau.
Later, when he became Water PS, the governor accused Mr Irungu of supporting the water companies he accuses of oppressing locals by unilaterally raising tariffs.
He further accused the PS of supporting the Muranga Water and Sanitation Company (Muwasco) to borrow money to construct a water institute in Ndikwe village.
But Mr Irungu says his association with Muwasco is supervisory.
Both the governor and the PS come from Mugoiri Ward and previously served in the boards of Kiaguthu Boys High School and the Kahuro Business Professionals as chairperson and vice-chairperson respectively.
A member of the professionals group, who did not wish to be named as he is a friend of the two men, said that the two leaders were buddies.
“They were great friends and often found themselves in the same associations, where they mobilised funds for community development,” said the man.
The Murang’a gubernatorial race is crowded, attracting politicians, high-ranking serving and former public servants and private sector leaders.
Those eyeing the seat include Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia, former principal secretary Irungu Nyakera, Senator Irungu Kang’ata, Murang’a Woman Rep Sabina Chege and Ahadi Kenya boss Stanley Kamau.