Boundary wars at the root of Bomet, Kericho water woes

Tuesday, January 26th, 2021 00:00 |
Kericho water woes.

A row over boundary has been cited as the main cause of longstanding water disputes between Bomet and Kericho counties dating back to 2013.

Before the demarcation of boundaries that resulted into the two neighbouring counties, River Itare water from Konoin was a project of Buret district, which was split between the counties. 

It used to serve residents and those from Litein town in Kericho county. It was managed by Tililbei Water and Sanitation Company (Tilwasco).

However, with the inception of devolved system of governance, which saw Konoin hived off from Buret and became part of Bomet, Bomet Water and Sanitation Company (Bomwasco) was created to run operations in the county. 

The water now being shared between the two counties is sourced from Itare Dam and pumped to a reservoir at Saseta in Konoin that holds up to 1.3 million litres where Bomet consumes 70 per cent as Kericho takes up the remaining 30 per cent.

Bomet benefited as a result of boundary delineation, which seems to have favoured it to the detriment of Kericho.

Tilwasco has a feeling that Bomwasco is charging them too much from a project they constructed. This has even exacerbated the row.

The pay agreement between Bomwasco and Tilwasco was that the latter pays a fixed rate of Sh20 for every 1,000 litres supplied.

Electricity charges

This, according to officials from Bomet, is to cater for electricity charges for pumping the water.

Tilwasco has, however, been reluctantly paying the bill. In 2016 when bill had accrued to Sh22 million, Bomet disconnected the water supply.  

This forced Kericho Governor Paul Chepkwony to seek intervention from the then Commission for Revenue Allocation  chair Micah Cheserem.

Cheserem had blamed Tilwasco for the water woes and asked Bomwasco to bypass it and supply water directly.

 As the battle continues, Bomet has yet again disconnected water supply to the county over an outstanding arrears amounting to Sh42 million.

This has now affected learning institutions and health facilities, which include Kapkatet and Litein hospitals in Kericho.

Bomet Executive Member in-charge of water Eng Peter Tonui said they took the decision after several attempts to have the county pay the electricity bill failed.

“What we only require from them is to pay the electricity bill, which is the cost we are paying Kenya Power Company for pumping water and   authorised by the Water Service Regulatory Board,” Tonui said. 

Exonerating the county from any blame, Tonui said they have all along been paying the huge electricity bill for pumping the water, but Kericho is now  reneging on the terms of the contract.

Chepkwony has, however, insisted the charges are not favourable and are planning to put its own water treatment plant at Chemosit River.

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