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
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.