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A serious legal battle is taking shape between the residents of Thika Sub-County and the County Government of Kiambu over the manner in which it passed and started implementing the Kiambu Finance Bill 2015-16. The outcome of this case could set precedence to court cases to countrywide seeking to address the legality of the county governments' handling of affairs and public participation.

Through its lawyer Prof. Kiama Wangai, JAMOFASTAR, an association representing the welfare of over 25,000 residents of Jamuhuri, Ofafa,  Starehe, Kimathi, Ziwani, Magoko, UTI, Teachers Quarters (Majengo), Bondeni Kamenu Estates as well Jamuhuri & Madaraka Markets in Thika Sub-County, has  given the County Government of Kiambu an ultimatum to sit down with them lest they drag it into the corridors of justice for arbitration.

They argue that Kiambu Finance Act 2015-16 imposed new taxes, fees and charges to the residents of Kiambu County without being supported by the relevant substantive/parent laws. The defined process aimed at ensuring proper public participation too was not adhered to, thus the illegality.

Secondly, they argue that the county government does not have a Tariff Policy for fees and charges which is a necessity by law. The county government is also accused of presenting for debate at their county assembly, a different Finance Bill from the one that was validated at the stakeholders' forum. They argue that in reference to the Public Finance Management Act 2012, before any presentation of any county finance bills to the members of public, Parliament must be consulted to determine if these bills are in compliance with the stipulated national economic policies and other relevant regulations which the Kiambu County Government never did.

 Furthermore, the county government is being accused of publishing and implementing the Finance Bill before being published in the Kenya Gazette as per Articles 199 and 260 of the Constitution of Kenya. Section 23 of the County Government Act provides that "a bill  shall be published y including the bill as a supplement in the county Gazette and the Kenya Gazette. They argue that the act that Kiambu adopted were 'modified proposals' by the executive arm of Kiambu County against the wishes of the stakeholders.

They are waving an olive branch to the county government by calling for a round table dialogue to iron out the contentious issues. Otherwise, if that is not honoured, they say that they will be left with no other option but to seek legal redress. Meanwhile, they are asking their members not to pay any fees,rent or charges until the matter is fully settled.

The outcome of such a case will shape the manner in which county governments in Kenya conduct business in their areas of jurisdiction. Other counties will definitely be following this case to borrow a leaf.

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