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Order to not disconnect water is killing firms, union says

Wednesday May 13 2020
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Union says water companies have been forced to operate on a shoestring budget after revenue collection took a massive dip. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By COLLINS OMULO

The umbrella union for county government workers is now appealing for financial rescue from the State to help water companies pay workers' salaries.

The Kenya County Government Workers Union (KCGWU) says more than 20,000 employees of water companies countrywide are now staring at a financial crisis due to huge revenue losses incurred following a government order to not disconnect water supply to Kenyans due to the coronavirus pandemic.

This, the government said, is because water is an essential commodity in the fight against Covid-19.

However, KCGWU General Secretary Roba Duba now says that water firms have been forced to operate on a shoestring budget following the directive with revenue collection taking a massive dip.

The directive, Mr Duba said, has led to delays in payment of salaries to their staff as water firms largely depend on revenue collected from water bills to stay afloat.

“This financial crisis has led to delays in payment of salaries for water companies’ employees, coupled with the lack of recognition and motivation of workers generally at this crucial moment of the pandemic. If it goes unchecked in the near future, we might have a serious crisis in our hands,” said Mr Duba in a letter addressed to Water Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki.

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The letter is also copied to Treasury CS Ukur Yatani, Health CS Mutahi Kagwe, the Council of Governors chairman, Cotu Secretary General Francis Atwoli and the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Water, among others.

He explained that revenue collection has dwindled since the directive by President Uhuru Kenyatta last month. He had ordered all water companies not to disconnect supply to any Kenyan on account of failure to pay their bill, particularly those in informal settlements.

The directive, the former Moyale MP said, has greatly affected the normal operations of water companies in Kenya which generate their own revenues to pay salaries and wages, operations, maintenance and all overheads.

“In view of the foregoing, we request your good offices to provide and disburse financial interventions from the National Government to the water companies to enable them fill the deficit created by the loss of revenue. Your cooperation on this matter will go a long way in fighting this pandemic,” he said.

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