Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu on Friday officially merged eight water companies in the county to form a mega utility firm, in defiance of a court order.
On Thursday, High Court Judge W.A Okwany issued an order barring the county government from implementing the Kiambu Water and Sanitation (amendment) Act, 2018, whose enactment paved way for the dissolution of the utility companies.
This was after a section of county residents moved to court to challenge the Act, on grounds that it was unconstitutional.
No public participation
The residents had argued there was no public participation during the formulation of the law, and that it is against the spirit of devolution.
“That a conservatory orders be and is hereby issued against implementation and operationalisation of Kiambu Water and Sanitation (Amendment) Act, 2018 pending the hearing and determination of the petition on merits,” reads Justice Okwany’s orders.
The affected companies are Thika, Ruiru-Juja, Gatundu, Githunguri, Kiambu, Karuri, Limuru, Kikuyu and Karemenu water and sewerage companies.
On March 27, 2016, former Transitional Authority chairman Kinuthia Mwangi, Thika District Business Association and Jamhuri Ofafa Starehe Welfare Association filed a petition at the Kiambu High Court challenging the validity and constitutionality of the Act which was signed into law the same month by Mr Waititu.
According to the petitioners, the Act, was passed and assented into law in total violation of the provision of the constitution on public participation as enshrined in Article 10 of the Constitution.
In his supporting affidavit, Mr Kinuthia said the Act does not consider the rights of consumers as stipulated under Article 46 and also failed to consider the objectives of devolution under Article 174.
But despite the order, Mr Waititu on Friday held a ceremony to fold all the companies and unveiled a new company dubbed Kiambu Water and Sewerage Company and even unveiled its interim board.
The event was held at the Kiambu Town county headquarters, and was graced by Kericho Governor Paul Chepkwony, whose county merged two utility companies three years ago.
Managing directors of all the eight water companies surrendered their respective company seals, certificates of registration and articles and memorandums of association.
Mr Waititu justified his action saying it will enhance efficiency and transparency in the water sector, accusing his political competitors of being behind the court case.
“We have followed the Constitution which gives our county assembly the mandate to pass laws, which they did (by passing the water Act), and they held public participation.
“So if you never showed up during public participation, there are other people who did it because Kiambu has many people, and public participation is not for specific people.”
“There are those [people], who are not with us [not supporting the merger], (and) they are those who we competed with [in 2017] or are planning to compete with me [in 2022] and so it is expected that they will fight any good project that I come up with,” Mr Waititu said.