A session between Senate Committee on Delegated Legislation and Cabinet Secretary for Water, Sanitation and Irrigation Alice Wahome was adjourned abruptly on Thursday, May 25.
This was after senators demanded answers as to why the government gazetted Water Resources Regulations, 2021, without considering the view that lobby groups and ordinary water users in the country had presented.
In legal Notice number 170 of 2021, the government had gazetted regulations developed by the Water Resources Authority (WRA) and the State Department of Water, increasing water use rates by 1,000 per cent for Domestic, Public water supply and Livestock watering and a 320 per cent increment on irrigation water.
“These provisions are offensive as they are not in touch with the realities of competitiveness in the agriculture sector and the economy,” the Petition by a lobby group known as Agriculture Sector Networks (ASNET), read in parts.
Agriculture Sector Networks (ASNET) had asked the Senate Committee on Delegated Legislation and Cabinet Secretary for Water to take measures to ensure that the implementation of the regulations was immediately stopped.
ASNET claimed that the regulations were offensive provisions that ought to be withdrawn, and subjected to new legal and public scrutiny.
However, CS Wahome rejected the pleas by the Agriculture Sector Networks, noting that the contents of the Petition form part of three matters pending before the court and whose judgment was due in three weeks.
According to Wahome, entertaining such discussions would amount to contempt of court since the matter was still active before a judge.
CS Wahome, therefore, implored the Senators to call off the session until such a time when the matter shall have been heard and determined by the court.
In response, Senator Mwenda Gataya Mo Fire, who chairs the committee, agreed with the Water Cabinet Secretary and adjourned the session.
“We have listened to the submission by the CS and it is our view that we stand down the matter to seek the permission of the Speaker on whether we can proceed with the petition in view of the latest revelation,” Senator Mo Fire stated.
However, Senato Mo fire warned CS Wahome that implementing the regulations without senatorial approval would create legal complications for the Kenya Kwanza government.
“I want to direct you to republish the regulations and submit them to the Senate without further delay,” Senator Mwenda Gataya Mo Fire ordered, warning that their implementation could be illegal.
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