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Why Governors Want To Play Politics With Your Water Bills

Alvin KE

May. 20, 2020

COG Chair Wycliffe Oparanya
The Council of Governors (CoG), led by Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, on Wednesday, May 20, issued a statement directing Kenyans to pay their water bills or risk disconnection.
"I take this opportunity to remind fellow Kenyans that the directive from the National Government not to disconnect water was directed to those living in informal settlements. "All other Kenyans must pay their water bills to be able to sustain the operations of the water companies," reads the statement in part. The county heads also highlighted a potential crisis arising from an accumulation of electricity bills since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
President Uhuru Kenyatta
"It is also evident that electricity bills for water utilities are accumulating as well as salaries for the essential water and sewerage workers have gone unpaid owing to decline in revenue collection. "More sustainable lasting solutions such as review of electricity tariffs, bailing out water companies, a case study in Kakamega County, need to be urgently explored before the collapse of urban water supply in the country," the statement further reads. The statement, in part, seemed to directly contradict President Uhuru Kenyatta's April 22, order that the relevant state parastatals should not disconnect electricity and water owing to unpaid bills during the coronavirus pandemic. Speaking during a live radio address from State House Nairobi, President Uhuru said that he had no authority over landlords and could not impose an order for them to waive rental income during the pandemic, but also made it clear that no Kenyan would have their electricity and water supply disconnected during the pandemic. On April 7, the president also issued a statement directing the Nairobi Metropolitan Service (NMS), to not only continue providing water services to all but expand the same to all informal settlements.
PSCU "I have asked the Nairobi Metropolitan Service to ensure all residents of Nairobi access clean water. They should stop water vendors from selling this commodity," Uhuru said. "I have also requested the Kenya Power and Lighting Company not to disconnect power to those who are unable to pay but rather understand the situation we are in,” he added.
The livestock problem
The CoG, aside from issuing the warning of possible disconnection from utilities, also highlighted a threat posed by cattle traders in regards to the spread of the coronavirus. With Garissa now one of the counties that have registered Covid-19 cases, the governors urged the State Department for Livestock to address the risk posed by cattle traders from the North Eastern county.
NMS Director Gen Mohmmed Badi
"The border with Somalia remains a high risk with the Covid-19 patients in Wajir being livestock traders. The main terminal markets of Nairobi are still operational with lorry loads of cattle from Garissa coming to Nairobi every Wednesday. "CoG urges the State Department for Livestock to fast-track the release of the guidelines of the operation of livestock markets in the country and especially among the affected counties," reads an excerpt from the statement.
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