Court stops Othaya water tariff increase

Published on 01/06/2009

By Standard Writer

Residents of President Kibaki’s Othaya constituency can smile after the High Court suspended a 150 per cent increase in water tariffs.

Othaya Mukurweini Water Services Company Ltd had in January raised the tariffs to Sh500 a month up from Sh200 for un-metered water consumers. The Water Services Regulatory Board and Tana Water Service Board had sanctioned the increase.

The decision to raise the tariffs was contained in gazette notice on December 5, last year and a circular dated January 21, 2009.

Through Nairobi lawyer Gichuki King’ara, residents filed an application at the Nyeri High Court to challenge the increase of tariffs for metered and un-metered water consumers. The residents include Mr Solomon Gakuo, Mr Micah Kiruki, Mr John Gichuki, Mr Andrew Mwangi and Mr David Bari.

On Friday, Justice Milton Makhandia directed the water company not to disconnect water and sewerage services for residents who had not paid the new tariffs.

The company was also stopped from implementing the new tariff.

Unable to pay

The judge granted the orders after hearing arguments by lawyer King’ara in an application without the other party.

In the statement presented to the court, the lawyer said the new tariff was against rates set by the Minister of Water and Water Resources management Authority in 1999.

The lawyer said his clients and other water consumers are unable to pay and have not paid the new rates communicated to them between February and April.

Some consumers, he said, require a subsidy due to their vulnerable positions and others are of advanced age. One of the applicants, Gakuo, is 103 years old.

King’ara says the tariff increase was done without reference to the consumers, contrary to the requirement of the Water Act, National Water Resources Management Strategy and Water Tariffs Guidelines.

The residents claim Othaya Mukurweini Water Company has not called consumers for a meeting to air their views, which is contrary to the rules of natural justice.

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