Mu­rang’a ward rep seized as wa­ter wars with city es­ca­late

Po­lice stopped MCAS from hold­ing a pub­lic fo­rum at Ndakaini over the pro­posed charges

Daily Nation (Kenya) - - National News - joseph­n­dun­gu­ BY NDUNGU GACHANE @Ndun­gu­gachane

The war for the con­trol of wa­ter piped to Nairobi es­ca­lated yes­ter­day when a Mu­rang'a MCA was ar­rested for try­ing to hold a meet­ing in Ndakaini as the the county vowed to push for a 25 per cent levy on the cap­i­tal for all the wa­ter from the re­gion.

More than 84 per cent of wa­ter con­sumed in Nairobi comes from Ndakaini dam in Mu­rang'a, a county where less than 30 per cent of res­i­dents have ac­cess to tap wa­ter.

The pro­posal by Mu­rang'a Gov­er­nor Mwangi Wa Iria could trig­ger an in­crease in prices.

Yes­ter­day, Ma­jor­ity Chief Whip Si­mon Wamwea was ar­rested as his col­leagues were hit with tear­gas as they tried to ac­cess Ndakaini shop­ping cen­tre where they were to hold a pub­lic par­tic­i­pa­tion fo­rum over the pro­posed levy.

The MCAS were stopped at Gichecheni, about 3km to the shop­ping cen­tre, by po­lice of­fi­cers who had mounted road blocks. The of­fi­cers or­dered them to turn back say­ing they had orders to bar them from ac­cess­ing the area.

Af­ter plead­ing with the se­cu­rity of­fi­cers drawn from the three sub-coun­ties; Gatanga, Kigumo and Kan­dara, they were al­lowed to hold a press brief­ing at the road block but be­fore jour­nal­ists set up their equip­ment, the of­fi­cers started throw­ing tear­gas can­is­ters at them mak­ing them re­treat in their ve­hi­cles and flee.

In the process, Mr Wamwea re­turned to get his ve­hi­cle but was bun­dled in a po­lice car.

Po­lice were heard ac­cus­ing him of car­ry­ing T-shirts bear­ing in­cit­ing mes­sages in his car be­fore they ar­rested him

The AP and reg­u­lar po­lice of­fi­cers es­corted the MCAS with their alarms blar­ring while throw­ing tear­gas at their ve­hi­cles un­til they ar­rived at Blue Post about 20km away.

When they re­alised they were no longer be­ing fol­lowed, the MCAS con­verged at a ho­tel where they con­demned the act and vowed to con­tinue fight­ing for their wa­ter rights.

Wear­ing blue T-shirts la­belled "Our Wa­ter our Oil" the ward reps ac­cused the se­cu­rity agen­cies of be­ing bribed to pre­vent the MCAS from dis­charg­ing their man­date of leg­is­la­tion.

Led by the chair­per­son for the assem­bly's wa­ter en­ergy and nat­u­ral re­sources com­mit­tee, Ms Jane Wan­jiru Muigai, the MCAS said they had an­nounced the pub­lic par­tic­i­pa­tion fo­rum in churches and had planned to get the pub­lic's views on the levy only for them to be dis­persed us­ing the tear­gas.

"It's a sad day for the in­sti­tu­tion of the County Assem­bly be­cause we had gone in peace only to find a bat­tal­ion of armed po­lice of­fi­cers with crude weapons to in­tim­i­date us.

"The fight for wa­ter rights will con­tinue and no amount of in­tim­i­da­tion will cow us we will go back to the shop­ping cen­ter and all the other ar­eas of Mu­ranga un­til we get our rights," Ms Muigai said.

The ward reps asked In­te­rior Cabi­net Sec­re­tary Fred Ma­tiang'i to trans­fer County Com­mis­sioner John Elun­gata ac­cus­ing him of tak­ing sides in the Mu­rang'a wa­ter wars.

"We hear the po­lice had been told that we were to go and block wa­ter from Ndakaini, we know the process and the pro­ce­dure but then why did they fail to ask the Assem­bly lead­ers to hear our side of the story, Mr Elun­gata is bi­ased and he must be trans­ferred," Ms Muigai said call­ing upon the DPP to in­ves­ti­gate the con­duct of the po­lice of­fi­cers and their bosses.

Nom­i­nated MCA Habire Chege said it was un­for­tu­nate they were be­ing tear­gased for their ef­forts to de­mand their rights.

How­ever, county po­lice com­man­der Mo­hammed Farah said the po­lice were not no­ti­fied that the MCAS would visit the area and were dis­persed be­fore ad­dress­ing the me­dia be­cause po­lice did not know what the politi­cians wanted to say.


Mu­rang’a MCA Si­mon Wamwea when he was ar­rested yes­ter­day.

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