Murang'a Governor summons Equity's Munga over high water rates

Mr Peter Munga. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Mr Peter Munga. FILE PHOTO |   NMG

County Governor Mwangi Wa Iria has demanded a meeting with Murang'a Water and Sewerage Company (Muwasco) chairperson and business tycoon Peter Munga over high water tariffs charged by the firm.

Speaking yesterday after commissioning boreholes, the county boss accused water companies of reaping huge profits at the expense of poor consumers.

“Residents in Murang'a are charged expensively to install a meter but every month you pay Sh50 as if you sleep on it. Then you pay Sh500 standing charge whether you have used water or not...I will deal with those companies,” he said.

When reached for comment over the planned meeting, the water company did not respond to the Business Daily's queries as at the time this story was published.

According to a circular released by the governor’s office, residents in the county have complained about high water rates charged by Muwasco.

Murang’a governor Mwangi wa Iria. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Murang’a governor Mwangi wa Iria. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Mr Munga, who is also the Equity Bank #ticker:EQTY chairman, will be tasked with explaining why consumers in the devolved unit pay such high charges yet the county supplies Nairobi with water.

“Following complaints by Murang'a residents over high water rates, Governor Wa Iria has called for a meeting and has asked the company's chair to attend and explain to residents why the rates are high,” the memo read in part.

'Political interference'

The county boss had earlier accused the tycoon of political interference and of bankrolling his opponent Dr Moses Mwangi’s campaigns.

“It is rumoured that the chair of one of the banks is funding my opponent’s campaigns. He needs to know that even with his money he cannot oppose Jubilee candidates in the county by sponsoring one his employees,” said Mr Wa Iria.

Last month, a planned meeting to discuss water tariffs went belly-up after directors sitting on Muwasco's board dismissed claims that the company was charging high tariffs.

The company told its customers that the cost of water will not drop due to a Sh1.2 billion debt owed to it.

Muwasco managing director, Daniel Ng’ang’a, said the utility firm is grappling with debt accrued from construction of water infrastructure built since 2013.

The loan was advanced by the National Treasury to fund the Murang’a bulk water project.

Allocate subsidy

Mr Ng’ang’a accused the devolved unit of failing to give it monetary allocations which would help cushion its customers from the tariffs, noting that Wa Iria's government had ignored their requests for a subsidy to assist in running the water utility.

“If the cost of operations are not met then the county government should allocate funds to this company, so that water consumers can pay as low as the county would want them to,” he said, adding that excessively low tariffs would starve the firm of funds required for basic operations and maintenance, leading to poor service delivery.

“Low tariffs that do not cover costs of provision of services may be attractive as a populist measure for elected leaders. However, they are highly inconsistent with the Vision 2030 goal on access to water,” he said in a statement.