SPEECH BY H.E JOSEPH OLE LENKU, GOVERNOR, COUNTY GOVERNMENT OF KAJIADO, DURING THE 2018 MAJI AWARDS AT GALAXY RESORT , KITENGELA, ON FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 9,2018.
Our awardees today,
Our County Government Officers present,
Our People of Kajiado County,
Habari ya mchana.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today, we gather here to discuss a subject that is dear to us. A subject that is the fulcrum around which humanity survives. A subject that evokes emotions because lack of it makes life very miserable. A lack of it stagnates our economic advancement for we cannot prosper without it within our reach.
Water ! Water !Water! Water is so central in our lives that my administration has made Universal Water Access one of its key flagship areas of focus. I have grown up in several parts of this County and I have a very clear picture of the dire water situation our people are in. I have experienced firsthand, the urgency of why we need to transform our water security sooner than later.
A working devolution will enable this county to shed off its reference as one of the “water-stressed” devolved units. Our water coverage currently stands at 35 per cent; yet water is the engine of the National Government’s Big Four Agenda ( which we fully support) of Affordable Health, Food Security, Manufacturing and Housing.
We have a vision. A vision to have households access water within walking distance, and surely, a walking distance cannot be five, ten or twenty kilometres. We are talking of accessing water within one kilometre.
If we achieve this, we shall have contributed greatly to the economy as we shall have saved 80 per cent of the time spent on fetching water. This saved time can thus be donated to other economy driving engagements. Work in Kajiado County, and indeed this country, cannot be “Fetching Water”. Eti kazi tunayofanya mchana kutwa ni kutafuta maji. Hapana ! We can’t develop that way.
Today, ladies and gentlemen, we are not celebrating our achievements. It is not that we do not have much to celebrate. It is only that we have not completed the journey. We are midway; and like a traveller on a long journey, it is important to pose and ask yourself the lessons you have learnt in the covered journey so far. These lessons are vital in making decisions that are critical to the remaining part of the journey.
A successful journey towards “Water For All” in Kajiado has a bearing on the lessons we can draw from our past mistakes and oversights and how we can correct them to enable us confront the ever changing challenges that are always compounded by the rapid growth of our County.
THIS DAY, we seek to give hope and outline our vision of where we want to go as a County as far as provision of clean water is concerned.
THIS DAY, we seek to recognize the few among us who have already embarked on the mission to utilize the little water that we have in the best way possible. Those who have already started the journey to transform the way we deal with water.
THIS DAY, we seek to discuss the governance of our water entities and community projects; For this has a bearing to how effectively and sustainably our projects serve our communities.
THIS DAY, we seek to carry everyone along in our pursuit to have clean water for everyone. We are together in this; and together we shall make it.
THIS DAY, we have come to engage you, to listen to you, to hear your ideas on how we can partner to move the Water story forward.
It is not entirely true that Kajiado County has no water. This County is endowed with water sources that can supply us with enough water and still have more for our neighbours. The challenge has been harnessing this water in a sustainable manner through reticulation and pipelines that serve our villages.
Our key source of ready water remains the Nol Turesh water which flows from the Southern side of this County. This water passes through our County, but for some classical example of historical injustice, our people have not yet fully benefitted from this resource.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am not going to watch as our people continue being disadvantaged in the sharing of the clean and natural Nolturesh water. This is a right for which I am ready to fight and with the people behind me, we shall surely have a fair share of Nolturesh.
I have heard there are certain sections of Kajiado communities and individuals who are claiming ownership of some water sources.
Let me categorically state that there is NO NATURAL WATER SOURCE THAT BELONGS TO A COMMUNITY, A CORPORATE ORGANIZATION OR AN INDIVIDUAL. All water sources belong to the County Government of Kajiado.
Those who are introducing jungle rules by claiming ownership of some water sources, and thus seek to illegally control its use, are dancing on a dangerous ground. Some of the water sources under my radar on this charge are…… (………). We cannot allow it to happen. I will not entertain that kind of impunity.
At the heart of our lack of reliable water supply over the years, is the mismanagement of the little water that there is. It is one of the major reasons we have gathered here because we cannot continue to witness impunity and mediocrity in the running of our water projects.
When I came into office, I found our water companies reeling from pending bills, even for basic operational costs such as electricity and staff salaries and allowances. My Administration offered a reprieve and bailed these companies to the tune of several millions; yet they were selling water.
A water company that cannot pay its electricity bills is not a sustainable entity. After a though evaluation of the companies, we made the conclusion that they do not have the capacity to carry our long term vision of cheap, affordable and reliable water supply for both domestic and agricultural use.
We also found these companies to be suffering from Human Resource gaps. The workforce was demotivated and some were working in collusion with water consumers to deny the companies their revenue. You can imagine that one of our companies does not get paid for 75 per cent of their water!
We formed the Kajiado Water and Sewerage Company as a single entity to help us manage our water. Its chairman, Titus Naikuni, is here with us. Bringing water management under one entity is one way in which we can invest our resources for more effective and reliable results.
Plans are at a very advanced stage to fulfill all the legal requirements needed to kick off the operationalization of the company. I wish to formally request all the partners with us here today to support the new water company when its work finally starts. It will be our key point of reference on Universal Water Coverage in the county.
My good people,
Today, I wish to say we are keen on maintaining our existing water systems. We do not want to misuse the little water that we have. Our particular interest is on how we manage our boreholes across the county. It has come to our attention that many are not giving maximum benefits because of high operational costs and regular break downs. We are devising a mechanism of maintenance and capacity building for all those who are in charge of them.
I DIRECT THE CEC IN CHARGE OF WATER AND IRRIGATION to immediately set up a framework on how to offer expert training to all our borehole operators. This framework should entail procurement of companies that will maintain our boreholes in all the Sub Counties to shorten the periods they stay un-operational after they suffer a technical breakdown.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I now turn to the people who have hosted us today. The people of Kitengela and its environs. Your cries of unreliable water supply have been heard loud and clear. I am aware you have suffered in the hands of “merchants of misery”. These are people who have taken advantage of the situation and are enriching themselves by selling water at exorbitant prices.
I wish to report that my administration has agonized over your situation. On your behalf, your Governor has fruitfully engaged the Ministry of Water as well as the Nairobi Water and Sewerage Company for a bulk supply of fresh water amounting to 5,000 M3. This water will be piped directly from Nairobi and has a capacity to cater for 10,000 people in Kitengela town alone. Our sister town of Ongata Rongai is also part of these negotiations. I only seek your patience as we conclude this high level engagement with the relevant authorities.
Ladies and gentlemen,
When we are talking of water, we want to take this discussion to another level-The level of fresh and clean water-Maji si maji tu. We want our people to consume healthy water. We have been endangering our future, and that of our children.
In this vein, I am warning the existing water cartels who have been selling to us “bad water, any water”. I am declaring the sale of salty water in the County ILLEGAL starting February 10 next year. That is exactly 90 days from now.
Within this period, I DIRECTING am the Departments of Water and Public Health to commence a process that will ensure all private water vendors desalinate their water. No more licenses should be issued to water vendors before an inspection is done to ensure the water they are selling is clean and fresh. This will protect our people from health hazards that accrue from consumption of salty water over a long period of time.
Hand in hand with this, I further DIRECT the Department of Water to start the process of desalinating water from boreholes constructed by the County Government.
The concerned Departments should engage the relevant players in the water sector and put in place a legislation mechanism to ensure total compliance with this directive by the time we hold the next Maji Awards in 2019. This engagement should further discuss capping of prices to ensure our people are not exploited the way it is happening now.
Again, I call upon all the partners and donor agencies present here to support the full implementation of these directives. They are good for our people. They are for posterity.
I wish to stop here. Thank You very much and may God Bless you all. Asanteni sana!
H.E Joseph Ole Lenku,
Governor, Kajiado County.