The Energy, Water and Sanitation Authority (EWSA) is embarking on partnerships with the private sector in an effort to address citywide water shortages.
The utility agency has already shortlisted at least three foreign companies in the ongoing tender process among which one firm will be chosen to manage the government's 'Bulk Water Project', supplying the city with 40,000 cubic meters of water daily. EWSA did not reveal the names of the companies shortlisted companies until after the selected firm for the partnership has been chosen.
Statistics at EWSA indicate that currently, Kigali demands 110,000 cubic meters of water daily, yet only 70,000 cubic meters is supplied.
James Sano, Deputy Director General of water and sanitation at EWSA explained that while the partnership will be beneficial to all Kigali residents - especially those in areas with common water shortages - EWSA will not be giving up all of its duties: "maintenance and operation of the water distribution network, as well as sale of water to end users, will remain the role of EWSA, and will not be part of the project."
He noted that the winning company will be announced six to eight months. According to Sano, one new water treatment plant will be constructed on Juru hill in Bugesera District and another one in Kagarama sector, Nyanza District, to supply water to the those districts as well as Kigali city.
Under the project, the private investor will construct, finance, operate and maintain the two new water treatment facilities, as well as build two new reservoirs in order to deliver an additional 40,000 cubic meters of water a day. The investor will sign a concession of at least 25 years, after which the infrastructure built will be transferred to the government.
Currently, there are three main water treatment plants supplying water to City of Kigali. Nzove plant on Nyabarongo River is the largest supplier, pumping 26,000 cubic meters a day, the Kimisagara plant supplies 23,000 cubic meters a day, while the Karenge plant in Bugesera supplies 14,000 cubic meters daily.
Sano added that it's a win-win situation for EWSA; as resources are never adequate, it's imperative that the private sector come on board to invest in an area that has been, until now, exclusively managed by the government.
There has been a serious problem of water shortages in the recent dry season, in which many areas in Kigali were affected especially, Gatsata, Samuduha, Kicukiro, Gikondo, Busanza, Kimisagara, Kabeza, Kanombe and Nyamirambo.
The population in the city has significantly increased from about 765,000 in 2003 to 1.2 million people currently. According to EWSA, about 30% of the population living in the city experiences intermittent water supply, especially in the annual dry seasons.
In an interview with The Rwanda Focus, Brenda Mukarwego, the proprietor of Best Restaurant in Remera sector, welcomed the new arrangement by EWSA, saying that it will reduces cases of water shortages around the city.
"Water shortage is one the factors which hinders business activities in Kigali, especially those in the restaurant business, and I do believe that contracting a private firm to supply water around the city will be a best solution to address this challenge" Mukarwego said.
She urged EWSA to contract more private firms to construct water treatment plants in the country, which she said would improve the social welfare of the general population.