Murang'a water firms extend bitter battles over turf into 2023

Murang’a Water and Sanitation Company (Muwasco) staff protest

Murang’a Water and Sanitation Company (Muwasco) staff protest against alleged interference of the company’s operations by former Murang’a Governor Mwangi wa Iria at Kabiruini showground in Nyeri County during the water companies games closing ceremony in August 2018. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

The emotive water wars between Murang’a North and South are expected to rage on in 2023, even as local leaders fear getting involved.

The conflict is a result of a proposal being pushed to hive off Ichagaki and Nginda wards from Murang’a South and merge them with Township Ward in Murang’a North.

In the plans, the new unit will be placed under the management of Murang’a Water and Sanitation Company (Muwasco), taking the two wards from the control of Murang’a South Water and Sanitation Company (Muswasco).

Muswasco supplies water to Kigumo, Maragua and Kandara constituencies while Muwasco serves Township Ward, which encompasses Murang’a town, the county’s capital.

While Ichagaki and Nginda wards are in Maragua Constituency which has Mary wa Maua as MP, the township is in Kiharu under Mr Ndindi Nyoro.

The unending battles between the two companies had been ongoing silently but became full-blown after President William Ruto visited the area on September 30 and announced the completion of the Sh800 million Maragua dam and launched construction of the Sh10 million Maragua Four and the Sh1.2 billion Kigumo dams.

Muwasco had managed to control Maragua town in 2017 but then Water Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui kicked it out in 2018, saying, both the ministry and Water Services Regulatory Board (Wasreb) recognised the area to be under Muswaco’s jurisdiction.


Mr Chelugui warned that the wrangles risked the job security of the companies’ employees, hurt revenue collection and compromised service delivery.

Declaring his intention to be involved in the wrangles, former Governor Mwangi wa Iria said “Murang’a will not be a playground for selfish cartels out to steal our land and water”.

Ironically, Water CS Alice Wahome is from Kandara in Murang'a South while Governor Irungu Kang’ata is from Murang’a North. Muwasco has the Mt Kenya Foundation support in former Equity Bank Chairman, Peter Munga as its board of management boss and is being backed by the Murang’a Municipal Board.


Muswasco is headed by Ms Mary Nyaga as managing director and enjoys the support of local technocrats. Ms Wa Maua is the only elected leader in the county who has openly taken sides in the fray, endorsing the hiving off of the two wards. 

She has held a series of meetings in her constituency endorsing Muwasco, arousing a flurry of condemnation from Maragua town residents. Former Ichagaki Chief Mohammed Ali Mzee dismissed her as “a daydreamer with little understanding of the grave nature of her agenda on the issue”.

Murang’a Technical Training Institute in Maragua town has, through its board chairman Prof Peter Kagwanja, opposed the excision of the two wards.

“Muswasco needs help. It has a big mandate that is overwhelming it and it would be easier if another player gained some of Muswasco’s space. There is no feud at play, it is the creation of the media and I will ensure that Muwasco operates in Maragua town,” Ms Wa Maua said recently.

She vowed to use her influence in politics to ensure the plot succeeds even as Ms Mary Nyaga, who was also present at the meeting, maintained that “such a move has laid down procedure and legal concessions”.

Following the MP's declaration, calls are now being directed at Ms Wahome and Governor Kang’ata to intervene.

The two have been urged not to let the county revisit the battles that have led to the stalling of expansion programmes, loss of donor funding particularly for the construction of a water training institute at Kiawambeu and declining customer satisfaction.

In September 2018, the World Bank announced the withdrawal of a Sh130 million loan to Muwasco following unending disputes pitting the company and the county government.

Waterborne diseases

“As they feud, our towns continue to be an eye sore with raw effluence draining into water sources and leaving us at risk of waterborne diseases. Ms Wahome and Dr Kang’ata together with Wasreb must amicably settle this dispute,” said Mr Mwaura Murira, a local politician.

“Let Ms Wahome know that it is bad for her backyard to be synonymous with water wars. She cannot concentrate on her national mandate when her own house is on fire,” said former Ichagaki MCA Charles Mwangi.

Murang’a South Deputy County Commissioner Mr Gitonga Murungi said “I hope all will end well and the people be the winners through accessing services that they deserve”.

“We are not taking sides in this feud. There are so many meetings that are being organised and we are monitoring them for purposes of security preparedness”.

Mr Murungi warned against incitement and the use of hooligans to disrupt the peace in Murang’a South in the ongoing feud.