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Maragua residents protest over water tariff

Maragua constituents took to the streets of Kenol and Maragua towns Tuesday in peaceful demonstrations against the Water Service Provider Murang’a South Water and Sanitation Company (MUSWASCO) for the recent upward review of the water tariffs.

Led by the area Member of Parliament, Mary Wamaua, and Nginda ward Member of the County Assembly, Mwangi wa Mpesa, they claimed that MUSWASCO irregularly imposed the new water tariffs without public participation.

“The constitution is clear under article 43.1(d) that every Kenyan has a right to access clean and safe water in adequate quantities but this company has proved to be inefficient and ineffective towards this spirit,” said Wamaua.

The MP further faulted MUSWASCO for defying the requirement by the Water Services Regulatory Board (WASREB) that had called for the conversion of Water Service Providers (WSP) from private companies limited by guarantee to public companies limited by shares.

“MUSWASCO defied this requirement yet other companies like Murang’a Water and Sanitation Company (MUWASCO) Murang’a West Water and Sanitation Company (MUWESCO) as well as Gatamathi and Gatanga Water and Sanitation companies complied with the regulations,” she added.

This provision, said Wamaua, is contained in the Water Act 2016 section 77 (3) where the water companies are registered limited by shares and owned by the County Government and further gives the county government powers to establish water service providers.

“There seems to have a hand that is tampering with the transfer of the company to the County Government of Murang’a and we demand that the person interfering with MUSWASCO to immediately withdraw the letter barring the transfer of the company to the county” warned Wamaua

The MP further termed MUSWASCO as a noncompliant water company and urged the MD and management to therefore desist public utilities and infrastructure since they are using impunity to do business as private entities enjoying public infrastructure at the expense of the taxpayer.

On her part, MUSWASCO Managing Director Mary Nyaga reiterates that the right procedure for the review was followed complete with public participation held in April 2023 revealing that the review was necessitated by among other things the cost of inflation for inputs such as power cost, fuel, pipes and fittings, levies among others

“It is also a regulatory requirement for water service providers (WSP) to have a valid tariff and the previous one had been in operation from 2012 thus expired,” noted Nyaga.

Asset development, renewals, expansion of infrastructure, and a need to meet the financial obligations and to ensure water connectivity to all households within Murang’a South were also factored into the review

The new effected tariff seeks to do away with the block charges that were Sh. 260 for 0 to 6 units to a new charge of Sh. 107 per unit consumed.

The new structure however does not impose any bill on consumption of zero units where previously consumers would pay Sh. 260 even if the consumption was zero.

Moreover, consumers who have their water disconnected at the meter will now part with Sh1000 for reconnection from Sh. 500 while those who have their water disconnected at the mains will pay Sh. 5000 and double the deposit for reconnection.

For any water tariff review to be effected it has to go through the approval of the Water Services Regulatory Board (Wasreb).

MUSWASCO serves Kandara, Kigumo Maragua sub-counties in Murang’a.

By Florence Kinyua

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