February 24th 2018

Top Stories / 2017 Elections

Despite gobbling up cash, Governor Mutua's 'water for all' programme remains a pipe dream one year to election

According to Lemi, the water mapping exercise was a scheme by the governor to secure demographic data of voters with an eye on the 2017 election and registration of the Maendeleo Chap Chap party.

By Rose Mukonyorosemukonyo@yahoo.comWednesday, 12 Oct 2016 14:07 EAT

Pupils from Matungulu AIC Primary School drink water from a borehole drilled in their school by Machakos County Government. (Photo: Rose Mukonyo/Kenya Free Press)

The ‘free water for all programme’ promised by Governor Alfred Mutua to residents of Machakos during his campaign in the run up to the 2013 general election is facing a host of challenges that could frustrate its ultimate success. Dr Mutua, who promised voters they would enjoy free piped water in their homes before the year 2017, is now staring at several hurdles ranging from poor funding to logistical issues and politics. 

In the financial sphere, the county government has so far allocated billions of shillings in  successive fiscal years towards the programme, but it appears much more is still required for the implementation of the programme. It is clear the remaining amount of work cannot be practically completed with Sh2.08 billion that has been allocated towards the project this financial year.

On the other hand, laying of the required infrastructure for water circulation which includes storage, treatment and reticulation has been faced with the challenge of vandalism of pipes and solar panels in several regions. The issue appears to be worrying Governor Mutua to the extent that he has directed his staff working in the Water docket to work extra hard in order to ensure the water promise is delivered.

But one  issue that is giving the governor  a headache is the damning revelations by his former Water Chief Officer, Lemi Muia, who now claims that hundreds of millions of shillings have been looted through dubious deals.
According to Lemi, the much publicized water mapping exercise was largely a scheme by the county leadership to secure demographic data of voters with an eye on the 2017 election. The former chief officer alleges that contacts issued  by residents at their respective homes across the county would be used to secure the facilitation of the registration of Dr Mutua’s new party, the Maendeleo Chap Chap movement.

Lemi now wants the auditor general to investigate the Water department, which he alleges might have lost up to Sh400 million through irregular payments to contractors. Governor Mutua’s estranged deputy, Bernard Kiala, also believes the promise of piped water for all households may not succeed within the set deadline owing to poor planning and lack of projects design.

But the County Executive Committee member in charge of Water, Kioko Luka, has said the county is on the right path towards ensuring all households are connected to piped water. According to Luka, the government made the right decision to procure its own water drilling machines which have been sinking boreholes across different parts of the county.

The executive member also says hundreds of dams have been sunk to harvest more surface water in bid to ensure the programme is successful.

Rose is a contributing writer for the Kenya Free Press, based in Machakos County.

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