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Water firms in Murang’a directed to hand over assets to the county government

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

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