The fierce battle for the control of the multi-million Murang’a Water and Sanitation Company (MUWASCO), pitting Governor Mwangi Wa Iria against Equity Bank Chairman Peter Munga was taken a notch higher on September 20 after the former deployed more than 150 plumbers across the vast county to restore water to residents disconnected by the company.
Until now, Murang’a residents have been caught in between the power struggle between the two men keen on stamping their authority in the protracted battle as the County Government moves to take control of all local water companies.
On one hand, the governor has told them not to pay any bills until further notice saying that the company has already branded itself as a private company and thus should not collect any money from them while the company headed by his former boss has made good its threats to disconnect water to any resident heeding Wa Iria’s directives.
MUWASCO in the past week disconnected water to customers who had declined to pay their bills.
Shortly after the governor deployed the plumbers, the water company sent a short message to its customers notifying them not to allow any other person other than their staff to reconnect their water.
“Customers are advised to seek help from the company or from the local police station,” read the text message.
The defiant governor had other ideas as he stuck to his g**s accusing Mr. Munga for being the source of all water problems that have rocked the county.
“The fight to control water is far from over until the time some people will leave the sector alone. Munga should not operate resources of Murang’a people privately and I will not rest until I see residents get access to cheap clean piped water. Residents are advised not to pay a dime until the county opens new accounts for them where they will pay,” said Wa Iria.
The governor further stated that the county government is in the process of formulating a water policy which will guide how water will be managed.
“Some local companies including Gatamathi, Murang’a South Water, and Gatanga have complied with my directive, why is it that only one company, MUWASCO which is headed by Munga is against the move by the county government? ” posed the governor.
He observed that the county administration will replace all water metres owned by the water company with digital ones.
The new metres, he said, will be set to ensure customers receive some amount of water on daily basis free of charge.
“This county is endowed with permanent rivers and the locals should get water at a cheap price. The cost of supplying water ought to be minimal as water flows by force of gravity,” added Mwangi.
On August 29, the Labour Court stopped the governor from replacing Mr. Munga as chairman of the company after Wa Iria had appointed Peter Kimura to take the business magnate’s place at the helm of the company.
While giving his ruling, Justice Byram Ongaya also gave orders restraining Wa Iria from interfering with MUWASCO’s board of directors, staff and its daily operations.
The court ruling was issued as county government officials under the instructions of the governor dumped stones at the entrance of the water company in a bid to ensure that staff could not access the premises thus crippling operations.