Kiambu Government sued over constitutional breach.

Mt. Kenya CIPK Regional Coordinator Al Haji Shaban Gakere Bakari addressing other Thika residents and business community members during a press conference held at a Thika hotel to distance themselves from the proposed merger of Kiambu water companies. With him are Gladys Chania (extreme right), Eng. Gathariki Kamanu and Aboo Nurein (extreme left.)

A section of Thika residents and business community have sued the County Government of Kiambu for violation of the constitution over its attempt to merge all the county’s water companies.

Led by the former Transitional Authority Chairman Kinuthia Wamwangi, Thika District Business Association (TDBA) and Jamhuri Ofafa Starehe Association (JAMOFASTA), the residents accuse the county government of not upholding, respecting and defending the constitution by violating the public's right to participation.

In a notice of motion filed in a Kiambu High Court as a matter of urgency, the petitioners accuse the county government of going ahead with the merger without involving the affected residents thereby contravening several Articles of the Constitution of Kenya, the water Act of 2016, the Competition Act and Section 87 of the County Government Act in the matter of Section 42(2) of the Competition Act, Consumer Protection Act and the County Government Water and Sanitation Act 2015 and the County Government Water and Sanitation (Amendment) Act 2018.

The case has been scheduled for the 7th of May 2018 when the court will give directions on the 
matter.

All the eight water companies in Kiambu are scheduled to be officially merged this Friday at the county government’s offices in Kiambu Town.

Meanwhile, Thika residents have vowed to defy the county government’s order to dissolve the Thika water and Sewerage Company (THIWASCO), claiming that the move was ill-timed and in bad taste.

Speaking at a press conference in a Thika hotel, the residents said that Governor Waititu’s move to centralise water services to Kiambu were detrimental and would hurt the people of Thika and their investments, causing job losses to thousands of people employed in the town’s industries that depend on THIWASCO water services to operate.

In a statement read on their behalf by the Mt. Kenya Regional Coordinator of the Council of Imams & Preachers of Kenya (CIPK) Al Haji Shaban Gakere Bakari, the residents wondered why both the county government and the County Assembly of Kiambu evaded public participation concerning the matter and went ahead to amend the Water Act in total disregard to the constitution of Kenya and the interests of the people of Thika.

“What is this they are hiding that they have to rush and amend the Water Act (2018) without consulting the people affected? Why are they arm-twisting THIWASCO Board of Directors into signing consent for the merger? They simply want THIWASCO to bear the burden of the failed water companies at the expense of the people of Thika,” read the statement.

The residents read sinister motives in the move saying it will only worsen the already strained water situation in the town by diverting resources elsewhere.

They stressed that Thika town attracted so many investors during its heydays due to abundance of clean and safe water and it would be counterproductive to divert water resources elsewhere.

“The water is not even enough in Thika a matter that has been forcing THIWASCO to occasionally ration water services to its clients. Less water will scale down production especially for our food industries which by law, must use free flowing water to operate. This will lead to job losses and emergence of insecurity in the area,” said Bakari.

(Related story:  Kinuthia Mwangi differs with Kiambu on clustering of water companies.)

Thika businessman Eng. Gathariki Kamanu, a long time Municipal Council of Thika engineer and part of the team that bore THIWASCO in 1990 said that they created a master strategic plan that saw it expand the water capacity from 18 million litres to the current 36 million litres per day. He added that plans to further expand this capacity in 2005 never materialised thus the current water situation.

“Otherwise, THIWASCO has a major water expansion master plan and has signed contracts with the World Bank to increase water capacity to 50 million litres per day. If this merger materialises, all these projects will be withdrawn as the WB has only signed contracts with THIWASCO management,” explained Kamanu.

Gladys Chania Mwangi questioned the role of the 5 Thika MCAs who were part of the endorsement of the county water deal without the input of their electorate. She argued that the merger was not tenable and illogical as it centralising water services would take services further away from the people.

“Our MCAs have all failed us by endorsing this illegality and alienating their electorate from decision making in matters that affect them. The governor should also sit down with our people and address our concerns otherwise, we will have no choice but to wedge war against dictatorial leadership tactics,” said Chania.

(See also: Kiambu Assembly passes the Alcoholic and Water Bills into law.)

Elsewhere, sources indicate that newly formed Kiambu Water Company will work under the structures, infrastructure and documentation of the current one in Kiambu town since under the water Act of 2016, the county government cannot form a new company.

Our sources say that its new managing director will be Eng. Philip Gichuki who was blamed for gross mismanagement of Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company (NCWSC) that saw the company loss about KES. 2 billion.
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