IRINGA Municipal Council residents have a lot to talk about when it comes to safe and clean water supplied by Iringa Water Supply and Sanitation Authority (IRUWASA).Their life changed dramatically from difficult and tedious to one which is easy and manageable, thanks to the government which had intervened to end the water shortage that hounded the area for a number of years.
Mr Meshack Gadau, a businessman conducting his activities along Uhuru Road can't hide his feelings as he shows some of the tall buildings erected not far from his shop, which actually do not need water pump to lift water from the surface.
He says the water pressure is high and this is a good and new experience to town dwellers."Water was a scarce commodity, we used to buy from cart pushers without knowing where they had collected it from. The little you get is polluted with mud, salt and sometimes we could see a yellow colour on top of the bucket after a short while, is a history in which most of us we do not want to recite," Mr Gadau says.
Mr Onesmo Millinga, Manager at Niki Motel, one of the new buildings in the municipal centre who did not even have idea when he saw the last drop of water on the third floor of the hotel.
"I can assure you we no longer use a water pump, the pressure is high enough for water to reach the third floor," he said.
Justina Mwavela, Mlandege resident acknowledges that the government, through Iringa Urban Water and Sanitation Authority (IRUWASA) has achieved a substantial result that eased their day to day difficulties. They can drink safe and clean water collected from water taps without boiling it.
Mwavela, reminiscences on the situation in the past and says, "It was a hectic situation. We walked long distance up and down with our buckets on our heads to Ipogolo on the shores of the River Ruaha to collect and keep water in those huge containers. Now we have dumped them because they are worthless, water is available for twenty four hours," she says.
She said the water was not clean or safe because there were no plant to treat it, animals and human beings battled to grab the valuable resource in the open space and shallow area of the river.
IRUWASA currently and efficiently serves 15,000 households compared to 12,000 homes before the government intervention which came with a boost of 73bil/- .
The IRUWASA Public Relation Officer, Restituta Sakila said the water supply was not sufficient all over the town and were caused by outdated technology, dilapidated water infrastructures and the increase of the number of population as well as the expansion of the municipal council area and lack of fund.
"The water was plenty from those two sources of Ruaha River and Kitwilu springs, but the trouble originated mainly from poor infrastructures which were beyond our reach," Sakila says.
A comprehensive study conducted in 2002 with the objective of determining the extent of the water problem in the municipality, the government came with a constructive design intended to get to the bottom of it. Almost the whole town had a deficiency water supply but suburbs of Mlandege, Mwangata and Mtwivila were hardly hit by lack of water which lead to some of the families to dedicate much of time of the day in search of much needed resource.
The government in conjunction with the European Union (EU) and German Development Bank (KFW) provided a total of 73bil/- to IRUWASA to execute the project on two fronts by strengthening the ability of the Authority to provide the municipal council with a reliable water supply and refurbishing the sewerage system.
For IRUWASA to provide the reliable water supply was obliged to construct an intake, building a water tank with a capacity of storing 2,500 cubic metres at Ndiuka which would store, clean, treat and transport water to the pumping stations of Mtwivila, Gangilonga and Don Bosco, refurbishment of Kitwilu plant, grounding water pipes up to 32 kilometres within the municipality area for transporting water from one tank to another, constructing ten tanks with a capacity of storing 6,000 cubic metres of water in different locations for distributing water directly to customers in a pipe covering around 184 kilometres.
IRUWASA extended 6.2 kilometres to the existing sewerage and drainage system connecting areas of Mshindo, Mlandege and the town centre, construction of 185 inspection chambers and building 300 link compartments from house to house, construction of treatment plant at Don Bosco area and two more cesspool drainage area for cleaning sewerage product and buying two bowser trucks with a capacity of transporting 9,000 litres each.
The project designed in 2002 and executed by a German Company JR-International which started the construction in 2008 and completed in 2011, the inaugural took place in March 2012 by His Excellency Dr Jakaya Kikwete, President of the United Republic of Tanzania.
Sakila said the scheme has succeeded to get a welcome hand with appreciation from members of the public by shortening the walking distance to some of them; they are no longer distressed about the service, clean and safe water are within their reach.
The clean and safe water supply meets the national and International standards of United Nations agency, the World Health Organisation (WHO), IRUWASA turn out to be among the few towns in the country recognised by ISO and WHO respectively. The fund helped IRUWASA to construct new if is not posh spacious building housing the Administration Department.
The Authority has managed to get rid of 80 per cent of the sewer products produced within the municipality to the treatment plants allocated in outskirts of the city at Don Bosco.
Sakila delighted by the success of the scheme but there are some challenges to overcome like the availability of water has led to some customers lose their equipment such as water tapes bursting, as they can't bear the pressure emitted through water, theft of old pipes and water meters allegedly sold as metal scrap are on the rise.
The expansion of the municipal council area to places of Nduli and Isakalilo while at the same time there is a small number of people who built their houses on top of the hills, had caused an outcry from the members of the public who are not yet receiving the water.
The increase in population has caused a problem to the Authority because the design carried in 2002, by the time the population were not that much and the municipality was compact with a small and manageable area compared to the present, where the population shoot up and municipal council area widened.
"Payment of bills is not in time especially from the government departments, as they claim they have not received their (monies), other charges (OC) from their ministries and individual customers are not willing to pay their bills early, we depend on bills because the government doesn't provide us with subsidy to offshoot the running costs, which actually is massive for the Authority to manage and survive through the tides," Sakila says.
The Authority spends a lot of cash in paying for services such as power supply, water treatment chemicals, buying spare parts for machines and vehicles, lubricants and fuels.
Sakila expressed her dissatisfaction against the imposition of Value Added Tax (VAT) paid when IRUWASA procure goods and services for their operations.
"We pay a Value Added Tax for every purchase we make which ultimately goes to our customers, that is why there is a great number of people who want to connect with the sewerage system, but they can't buy the needed equipment for the work to be done, this actually hampers one objective for sustaining and expanding the services and undertaking new investment."
Sakila said for the moment the Authority has not yet reached to the extent where she can confidently say is making profit..
Environmental pollution and messing with water sources such as rearing livestock near the water sources, agriculture practices, car washing, building block making and soil erosion especially silting, are the malevolence IRUWASA is fighting an endless war.
"We can manage to clean mud and other stuffs, but when it comes to chemicals we have no alternative, our plant lacks the ability to separate water and chemicals like oils," Sakila cautions the public.