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Vicious battle looms as Wasreb nullifies Murang'a water board

Monday February 25 2019

Muwasco protest

Murang'a Water and Sanitation Company employees protest at Kabiruini showgrounds in Nyeri, accusing Murang’a Governor Mwangi wa Iria of interfering with the organisation's operations, August 24, 2018. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

NDUNGU GACHANE
By NDUNGU GACHANE
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The Water Services Regulatory Board (Wasreb) has dismissed the board of directors appointed by Murang'a County, citing lack of public participation.

The regulator has also said the Murang'a water and sanitation services law, which the county used to appoint the board, is null and void as it contradicts national government laws governing the water sector.

Robert Gakubia, Wasreb's Chief Executive Officer, told stakeholders in the county that they wrote to the assembly advising it on how to streamline the law passed in August 2018, but that it did not adhere to recommendations.

"Whenever a county law contradicts the national laws, it is the national laws that prevail. This means the Murang'a County Water Act and the new appointments are null and void," Mr Gakubia said on Monday.

NEW LAW

The new law, which was assented to by Governor Mwangi wa Iria, gives the county full control of the five water companies in Murang'a.

It creates an umbrella company - Murang'a County Water and Sanitation Services - under which the five are to operate.

The new law also gives the cxounty powers to oversee and determine the collection of water levies, a move that has not augured well with the water firms and the regulator.

Based on the law, Water minister Paul Macharia gazetted the new water board on February 22.

The members included former Maragua MP Peter Kamande Mwangi (Muranga South Water and Sanitation Company), the governor's cooperatives adviser Simon Mukunu (Murang'a Water and Sanitation Company), Environmentalist Peter Mbugua (Gatanga Community Water Company).

VICIOUS BATTLE

Mr Gakobia urged the stakeholders to ignore the appointments saying the water companies had legally constituted boards.

"We have given our legal perspective - that the gazette notice is null and void since it did not not follow laid down procedures and that we have legally constituted boards in office," he noted.

Wasreb's action may result in a vicious battle as on the eve of 2019, Mr Wa Iria said he would stop at nothing to gain control of the water sector.

The tug-of-war between the county and the management of the water companies has left consumers suffering due rationing.

When the wars erupted, supply was cut off and some residents had to walk three kilometres to fetch water.

The governor said the people should not pay their bills but those who heeded his directive and reconnected supply found themselves fond themselves on the wrong side of the law and were charged in court.

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