The Water Services Regulatory Board (WASREB) has written to water firms in Murang’a to change their institutional framework and handover their assets to the local county government.
In a letter dated July 1, WASREB asked the water companies to change their stakeholder composition to reflect that they are wholly owned by the County Government.
The WASREB’s directive is expected to bring to an end differences between Murang’a County Government and local water firms which have been persisting for more than three years.
WASREB further asked the water companies to create space in their institutional structures to have Class B shareholding to citizens through stakeholder groups so as to deepen public participation in the governance of the Water Service Providers.
In the letter signed by WASREB Chief Executive Officer, Robert Gakubia, the companies were advised their oversight will be done by the County Executive Committee member in charge of Water as provided for by the Water Act 2016.
The water firms were further instructed to change their structures to allow them raise revenue and loans through equity release or debt issues in the medium term to long term and deepen accountability to the citizenry through use of annual general meetings.
Gakubia through the letter said having the companies’ wholly owned by the respective county governments, will reduce conflicts and smoothen operations of the water firms.
“Please ensure this process starts and the relevant resolutions are made starting at the board level culminating at the annual general meeting as the case may be,” reads part of the letter seen by KNA.
Last year, wars between the county government and the water firms began after the former declared to take up management of the companies.
Some of water firms moved to the court to block the decision by the county government to take up its management, saying they are regulated by WASREB.
The Murang’a Governor, Mwangi Wa Iria has been accusing the companies of operating like private firms despite water being devolved function.
Reacting to the letter, Murang’a County Member for Water and Irrigation, Paul Macharia said the decision by WASREB will bring to an end the protracted wrangles between the county administration and the water providers.
Macharia said in recent past, some of the water companies have been trying to increase water tariffs, a move which the county government objected.
The county administration has been against high water rates charged to Murang’a residents, arguing there is plenty of water in the county.
By Bernard Munyao