A Murang’a Court on Monday barred a local water company from increasing water tariffs until case filed by the county government is heard and determined.
The High Court Registrar, Victoria Ochanda granted application by the county government to suspend implementation of new water tariffs by Murang’a Water and Sanitation Company (MUWASCO).
Ochanda issued interim orders restraining application of new tariffs after the company announced its intention to increase water charges.
The county government had filed a petition against the company, following a proposal to hike water tariffs that was approved by a stakeholders’ conference on August 9.
In an Affidavit, the devolved administration represented by Ng’ang’a Mbugua indicated the move by MUWASCO to increase water tariffs as illegal.
Mbugua told the court that the public participation conducted by the company was not sufficient as some stakeholders were left out in the conference.
He said if the new tariffs are implemented, they will affect many residents who cannot pay high water rates.
The company on the other side objected the application by the county government terming the move an abuse of court process.
Lawyer Kirogo Ndegwa representing Muwasco asked the court to strike off the application saying due process was followed before the company opted to increase water tariffs.
“The petitioner had not demonstrated that indeed the process to resolve the dispute had been exhausted, before turning to the court for intervention,” he noted.
Two years ago, water tariffs were lowered following a directive from the county governor Mwangi wa Iria.
Local water firms have been complaining that the reduced tariffs do not cater for operations costs subjecting them to losses.
The Water Services Regulatory Board (WASREB) is currently in a process to conduct public participation towards renewal of Muwasco’s operating license.
The magistrate scheduled November 19 as mention date when the court will give directions on the case.
By Bernard Munyao