Over 900 homes left high and dry as county wa­ter wars rage

Firm dis­con­nects wa­ter sup­ply to con­sumers who heeded gover­nor’s or­der not to pay bills

Daily Nation (Kenya) - - COUNTY - BY NDUNGU GACHANE

joseph­n­dun­gu­gachane@gmail.com

When two bulls fight, the grass bears the brunt. This phrase best de­scribes the im­pact of on­go­ing wars be­tween Gover­nor Mwangi wa Iria and the man­age­ment of Mu­rang'a firms that sup­ply wa­ter to close to 10,000 peo­ple.

At least 900 house­holds do not have run­ning wa­ter in their taps, thanks to the tug-of-war be­tween the ex­ec­u­tive and wa­ter com­pa­nies over pay­ment of bills.

Gover­nor Mwangi wa Iria re­cently is­sued an ex­ec­u­tive or­der to wa­ter con­sumers not to pay their wa­ter bills to Mu­rang'a Wa­ter and Sanitation Com­pany un­til his ad­min­is­tra­tion an­nounces a new ac­count to set­tle the bills in.

But the wa­ter com­pa­nies, in protest, dis­con­nected wa­ter to con­sumers who did not pay their bills at the set dead­lines.

Mr Fran­cis Ka­mau said he has had to fetch wa­ter from a bore­hole in Migingo, about three kilo­me­tres away, since Muwasco dis­con­nected his wa­ter sup­ply.

The fa­ther of four said he can­not af­ford to pay wa­ter ven­dors, adding that he does not have Sh5,000 that Muwasco is de­mand­ing for re­con­nec­tion. “I have to pay boda boda rid­ers to fetch wa­ter for me,” he said, adding that he fears his chil­dren could con­tract dis­eases from un­treated wa­ter.

Some of his neigh­bours said they were now do­ing their laun­dry on the banks of sea­sonal rivers.

Nom­i­nated County As­sem­bly Mem­ber Habire Chege said neigh­bours are help­ing him fetch wa­ter after his sup­ply was dis­con­nected by Muwasco for fail­ing to pay bills. The MCA said he is in­cur­ring ex­tra costs, not­ing that he is pay­ing for both trans­port and wa­ter.

"The gover­nor is in charge of wa­ter since it is a de­volved func­tion. But a few in­di­vid­u­als have ex­posed us to suf­fer­ing. We are wait­ing for our wa­ter to be re­con­nected by the county boss. We will not be cowed by Muwasco," he main­tained.

A spot check by the es­tab­lished that a sec­tion of Mjini res­i­dents and parts of Mukuyu have no ac­cess to wa­ter after the sup­ply was dis­con­nected. Many res­i­dents are us­ing un­treated wa­ter and trekking long dis­tances to fetch it.

While jus­ti­fy­ing his or­ders, the county boss said he had not con­tracted wa­ter com­pa­nies to col­lect rev­enue on be­half of the county, adding that his ad­min­is­tra­tion would in­form sub­scribers of a new ac­count to pay their wa­ter bills.

County of­fi­cials im­pound mo­tor­cy­cles and cars be­long­ing to Mu­rang’a Wa­ter and Sanitation Com­pany dur­ing the on­go­ing tug-of-war be­tween wa­ter firms and Gover­nor Mwangi wa Iria.

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