CoG and Senate Unite to Oppose Water (Amendment) Bill 2023 in Senate

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CoG and Senate Unite to Oppose Water (Amendment) Bill 2023 in Senate

The Council of Governors (CoG) and the Senate have joined forces to call for the repeal of the Water (Amendment) Bill 2023, which is currently before the Senate.

The bill seeking to amend the Water Act of 2016 has sparked a number of concerns, with stakeholders interpreting the amendment’s motive as bad faith in terms of devolution.

Taita Taveta Governor Andrew Mwadime, Chair of the CoG’s Water, Forestry, and Natural Resources Committee, has expressed concern about the bill’s potential impact on the constitutional power of devolved units over water resources if it becomes law.

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While emphasising the importance of affordable water in marginalised areas, Mwadime expressed concern that the amendments passed by the National Assembly do not align with the Constitution, stating that a win-win situation was required.

“We have resolved that the new bill must give room for win-win situation and to ensure that water is accessed across every corner of the underserved marginalised areas at the cheapest rate… The way the bill was passed in the National Assembly, there were some areas that counties have been short-changed and this is why we were deliberating with various stakeholders to get the way forward,” explained the Chair.

Governor Mwadime was speaking to the press in Mombasa on the sidelines of a multi-sectoral joint consultative forum hosted by the Council of Governors-Kenya (CoG), Senate Consultative Forum, and Gatsby Africa on emerging and existing water sector issues.

His vice chair, Laikipia Governor Joshua Irungu, expressed concern that the current bill “is clawing back so many of the functions of the county government and does not live up to the spirit of the constitution.”

“All this is geared to giving the people of Kenya access to clean affordable water.

We have agreed on a number of issues including on how the National and County government can consult each other as they decide, mobilise and implement programmes so that towards the end of the day even where we have the bulk water service that are under the National Government then in terms of the repayment of the various loans and investments that have been put in water, it will be seamless,” Irungu explained.

Vihiga Senator Godffrey Osotsi, chairperson of the County Public Investments and Special Funds Committee, accused the National Government of deliberately sponsoring a “unconstitutional bill” to undermine devolution gains in water provision.

“We all know that water provision is a devolved function but this particular piece of legislation is going to take away that from the counties to the National government. The position of most stakeholders is that this bill be stood down so that stakeholders can engage further and come up with better legislation to serve Kenyans,” he said.

Osotsi also advocated for a complete overhaul of the parent act, the Water Act of 2016, to address the gaps that prevent Kenyans from having access to affordable, clean water.

The bill proposes to amend Section 100 of the Act to allow waterworks development agencies established under the proposed law to supply bulk water to counties.

It also seeks to allow the agencies to petition the Water Services Regulatory Board to declare a default and order the transfer of water service providers’ functions to them if a county government fails to repay loans advanced to finance development, rehabilitation, or maintenance projects.

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CoG and Senate Unite to Oppose Water (Amendment) Bill 2023 in Senate

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