Fear has been rife that the president’s term may be tampered with, hence interfering with the length of time he’s supposed to stay in office. Ironically, as things now stand, and with the latest move by a powerful state agency, it’s getting more and more likely that indeed, president Uhuru’s term may be tampered with, but not an extension, rather, as a matter of fact, quite the opposite; a reduction. A popular revolt is seeming ever so close, but shall not be based on ideological principles or a civil cause as Dr. Miguna keeps predicting, but rather water!
Every country has its ticking point which is never messed with. It may be something as serious as Gun ownership, like is the case in the USA, where the issue remains a hot potatoe. It might also be as trivial as the price of bread like is usually the case in Egypt, where high bread prices have threatened to bring down regimes.
In Kenya, one thing which previous regimes have been smart enough not to joke with has been water.
Water is life, and more so, in the Kenyan case. It is the lifeline upon which the Kenyan household runs. Despite this, the Water Revenue Authority (WRA) is set to revise water charges exponentially in a move that will see the cost of the essential commodity skyrocket.
This is unlikely to go down well with Kenyans who feel pushed to the corner, and it might just happen to the final straw that breaks the camel’s back.
The World Bank-driven regulations published by Water, Sanitation and Irrigation Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki last Friday raised user charges from 50 cents per cubic metre to Sh5 for domestic use and livestock farming.
Water companies would then top up an additional five percent of the charges as the conservation levy.
“A person in possession of a valid water use permit or who is required to have a valid permit for water use shall pay in addition to the water use charge… a levy amounting to five percent of the monthly water use charge as a water conservation levy,” the new regulations say.
In what is likely to further rattle water consumers, the Water Resource Authority’s (WRA) has been authorised to review the charges annually, tracking after inflation.
“The Authority [WRA] shall adjust the water use charges annually to give effect to indexation by reference to the officially published annual inflation index,” the regulations say.
The new regulations are part of the reforms recommended to the government by the World Bank after it approved a Sh80 billion loan to help Kenya respond to the Covid-19 pandemic and address its debt vulnerabilities.
The multilateral body proposed that water service providers should cover 70 percent of the WRA’s budget from the current 30 percent.
The introduction of freshwater conservation levies will see the service providers pass the additional costs to homes and businesses for piped water and sewerage.
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