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Government to develop innovative strategies to incline water tariffs

The Council of Governors (COG) Committee for Water, Forestry, Natural Resources and Sewerage and the Senate County Public Investments and Special Funds Committee have gathered in a consultative meeting to develop innovative ways aimed at lowering water tariffs in the country.

Speaking at Pride Inn Paradise Resort, Mombasa, Taita Taveta Governor Andrew Mwadime who is also the Chairman of the COG Committee for Water, Forestry, Natural Resources & Sewerage said that they convened to discuss water-related matters collaboratively, while also examining the bill in the Senate to ensure that the Water Amendment Bill aligns with the Constitution.

Mwandime emphasized that the forum’s objective is to guarantee water connectivity extends to marginalized regions nationwide, enabling equitable access to this essential resource for all citizens.

The Vice Chairman of the COG who is also the Governor of Laikipia County Joshua Irungu noted that the forum is aimed at improving water services in terms of hygiene and costs.

Irungu said that there would be a forum addressing water tariffs, focusing particularly on areas where the cost of water production is high due to preferential tariffs for electricity.

He also highlighted the need for discussions with Kenya Power to establish similar preferential tariffs for water, akin to those for street lights, ensuring that communities have access to clean and affordable water consistently.

In addition, the Vice Chair stated that the County Government has come up with the County Integrated Development Programme which would include all the proposals and the needs of the community.

He noted that the Senate and the COG have agreed on several components including how both Governments could consult each other as they decide, mobilize, and implement the programs.

On his part, the Chairperson of the County Public Investments and Special Funds Committee, who is also the Senator Vihiga County Godfrey Osotsi accompanied by fellow members of the committee stated that the committee had an engagement with water service providers in all 47 counties on financial audit and management issues of water service providers in the country.

“Following the engagement, several cross-cutting issues came up therefore we engaged the stakeholders in the water sector including the Water Services Regulatory Board (WASREB), Water Service Providers Association (WASPA), and many others, and today we are privileged to have a multi-stakeholder forum organized by the COG to try and discuss the feedback that we got in these meetings,” Osotsi said.

This is a result of the national government’s decision to sponsor a Water Amendment Bill 2023 which the Senate considers unconstitutional as it might take away the gains made in devolution.

He said that water provision is a devolved function, yet the proposed legislation seeks to transfer this responsibility from counties to the national level.

He noted that stakeholders, both in Parliamentary discussions and during the meeting, have voiced opposition to the bill, advocating for its suspension. The prevailing sentiment among stakeholders is that further engagement is necessary to develop legislation that better serves the country’s needs.

By Nuru Soud

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