How ministry hatched plan to sell city water firm

Plans to sell Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company (NCWSC) were hatched at the Ministry of Water and Irrigation, it has been revealed.

Appearing before the Nairobi County Assembly Water and Sanitation Committee on Wednesday, the NCWSC managing director Philip Gichuki detailed how he was almost coerced into signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with SUEZ Company.

Mr Gichuki narrated to the committee how in February, during the launch of the drilling of 40 boreholes in the city by Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa and Governor Evans Kidero at Maji House, they were asked to remain behind for another presentation.

He said that in the meeting, there were representatives from the ministry (Athi water services), county government and the SUEZ Company.

According to him, it was at this meeting that the SUEZ Company then arranged for a benchmarking programme in Morocco, sponsoring a team of five — three from NCWSC technical team, director of water at the county government and a representative from the Athi Water Service.

NO BENEFIT

Mr Gichuki, however, said days to the benchmarking trip, NCWSC board proposed that one member, Samwel Ojanga, should accompany the team to Morocco and that it would foot his expenses.

After the Morocco visit, the team reported that there was nothing to benefit from SUEZ Company hence no need for partnership, whatsoever.

Mr Gichuki said that after the report was presented to the board, Mr Ojanga “negated” the report and demanded the board of directors to visit Morocco before making a final decision.

Five Board members, County Chief officer for water and environment Christine Ogut and the MD went for the second time to Morocco, where they attended a meeting but instead of being shown around the company, a MoU was pulled out and Mr Gichuki prevailed upon to sign it.

“I was perturbed by the turn of events. I was here for a benchmarking but the SUEZ Company had MoU for me to sign which I have never seen.

STOOD FIRM

“I refused, telling them I have to consult with the firm’s legal team and the company secretary. I told the board chairman Raphael Nzomo I will not sign,” he said.

He added that he scanned the documents and send them to the company secretary for review despite a push by the SUEZ Company to have him sign.

But a message from the company secretary stating that the MoU was not executable made him stand firm.

And speaking at the same forum, NCWSC technical director Nashon Muguna said that when they arrived in Casablanca, Morocco during the first trip, they were received by two gentlemen who had made a presentation in Kenya.

He said they were taken round where they were shown the company’s activities that include water and electricity supply, street lighting management as well as sewer services and tapping of storm water. They were, however, not impressed at all.

NOTHING TO SHOW

“SUEZ Company is not doing anything extraordinary, in fact in Nairobi we are far ahead. They drain sewage into the sea, at least we treat and recycle ours. The company treatment plant is not up to standard compared to NCSWC and the report is there,” said Mr Muguna.

Michael Ogada Okumu Embakasi MCA and member of the committee, demanded Mr Gichuki to reveal the identity of the link person between SUEZ and his firm.

However, Mr Gichuki said that he had never heard of the company and neither did he know where it is based nor what it does.

Cartels to blame for city water shortage, say Kenneth

EABL launches construction of Sh15bn plant