The proposed Murang'a County Water and Sanitation Bill, 2018 went through a stormy second reading, with claims and counter-claims of bribery, blackmail and sycophancy among members of County Assemblies (MCAs).
The bill seeks to give the governor control of the management of water companies, including appointing its directors.
When the Water, Energy and Agroforestry Committee tabled the bill for the reading, they said it is inconsistent with existing laws, and that the public had rejected it completely.
The committee sought to have the bill deferred to allow the executive to amend the “contradictory” clauses and also allow public participation in areas where this was not done time to scrutinise the bill.
“In Maragua and Kangema sub-counties, there was no public participation since the residents claimed they do not read newspapers, where the advertisement was placed, and since some sections contradict existing laws like the Water Act 2016 and the Public Management Finance Management Act, the second reading should be halted to enable the county to amend the clauses,” committee chair Jane Muigai said.
Immediately after her request, the committee's supporters and opposers started exchanging harsh words.
The supporters accused their opponents of sycophancy and being bulldozed by the executive.
But their opponents hit back claiming that the committee members had been bribed by water cartels to prevent the county government from rescuing consumers from the cartels' grip.
“We understand that water companies organised goons to disrupt the public participation meetings, and the committee is working in cahoots with the cartels to prevent the executive from bringing sanity and order in the running of the water companies,” Mr Habire Chege said.
“It’s high time we redeemed our image to stop claims that we are sycophants and being used as rubber stamps by the executive. The bill has a lot of inconsistencies and the public has rejected it completely. It is high time we understood that and restored the dignity of the house,” Ms Lillian Kabaya said.
Ms Lucy Nyambura said, "This committee has greedy and self-centred members who want to stop an idea whose time has come. It should be investigated.”
At that point the House became unruly, and it took the Speaker quite a while to restore order.
After a heated debate, a vote was taken, and the faction opposing the deferment of the bill carried the day.