28 September 2012

Tanzania: Private Water Sale to be Regulated

A DECISION to regulate the prices of water supplied by business people will come into effect by the end of this year, according to the Energy and Water Utility Regulatory Authority (Ewura).

The decision to control the prices of water drawn from the Water and Sewerage Corporation (Dawasco) boreholes and wells and supplied to consumers by motor vehicles, is aimed at ensuring that only clean water is sold and that the prices are reasonable.

Addressing a stakeholders' meeting convened to collect views and opinions in Dar es Salaam, the Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner, Mr Said Meck Sadiki, said that under the new plan, more people, especially those with low income will get clean water at reasonable prices to be set by Ewura.

The RC noted that EWURA would be responsible for issuing licences for those interested in doing the business of supplying water and that there will be regular inspection of motor vehicles that carry the water and the boreholes from which the water is drawn.

The upshot is to ensure the water supplied to consumers is clean and meets health standards. He further noted that unscrupulous people who will sell water without any licence from EWURA will be breaching the law. Legal action will be taken against them if proven guilty, he said. "Currently, the prices of water sold to consumers vary. Some sellers demand 500/- per 20 litres, a rate that is near-impossible for low-income earners.

In this case, some poor people go without bathing for weeks because they cannot afford to buy enough water for cooking, drinking and bathing," the RC said. Mr Sadiki explained that boreholes will be inspected by responsible authorities to ensure that the water is, indeed, clean and good enough for human consumption.

"The water might look clean. However, some of the minerals present might be harmful. So the only way to find out is for responsible authorities to test and verify that the water is not harmful to humans," he explained. The RC also said that boreholes that are close to public toilets or water fetched from rivers and dams will not be allowed to be supplied to consumers. Once apprehended such water sellers will face the music.

He warned the public against vandalizing water infrastructure and stealing water pipes and selling them as scrap metal. Earlier, the Ewura Acting Director General, who is also the authority's Director for Water and Sewerage, Mr Mutaekulwa Mutegeki, said that people's views will help the authority in arriving at the right decisions in ensuring that the plan is implemented effectively.

Mr Mutegeki said that once the guidelines are in place, directives and regulations will follow in the quest to make official control of water supplied by the private sector. The Dawasco Chief Executive Officer, Mr Jackson Midala, said that there will be zones and that each will have its own water supply motor vehicles. He added that every zone will have its own water price.

He further said that those supplying water using motor vehicles will be responsible for refilling at designated centres only. Those who will go against the directives will be taken to task. "They must ensure that all equipment for water supply, including the tanks and pipes, are cleaned regularly because there will be unannounced inspections to ensure that they are clean," he said.

Mr Muro Massawe from Kimara who is a business person and supplies water using small vans carrying 1,000 litres tanks, commended the move, but appealed to Ewura and Dawasa to ensure that those who supply water in small quantities are also protected by the law.

"Some of us have small tanks, carrying 1,000 litres of water and we supply in remote areas that cannot be reached by big bowsers. So, licences issued by EWURA should also take into consideration such category of business people," he pointed out. The Dar es Salaam Water and Sewerage Authority (Dawasa) Director of Technical Service, Mr Boniface Kasiga, confirmed that water supplied in the city by Dawasco is too little.

"That's why we want to ensure that everyone who cannot get the water supplied by Dawasco is offered chance to buy it from the private suppliers at reasonable prices. But, at the same time, the business people should make a profit," he said. He added that the government plans to increase water supply in the city. He noted that the project, which draws water from Lower Ruvu, will increase the intake to 270,000 cubic metres a day from the current 182,000 cubic metres.

Less than 50 per cent of Dar es Salaam residents have access to piped water. The guaranteed supply reaches residents at Masaki, Oysterbay, Keko and Lugalo only.

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