Kenya: Water Shortage Persists in City Estates Despite Rain

Nairobi County residents continue to endure biting water shortages, with some estates having gone for more than six months without tap water.

Despite the start of the long rains this month, the situation has not improved and residents are forced to dig deep into their pockets to buy water from vendors.

A water-rationing programme that began in January 2017 is in its third year.

Some of the worst-affected estates are Lang'ata, Umoja, Githurai 44 and Zimmerman.

Mr Martin Njoroge, a Zimmerman resident, said that a severe water shortage has persisted for the past three months and the situation was getting worse.

DEPEND ON VENDORS

Residents get tap water for a few hours a week, he said, forcing them to depend on vendors, who charge as high as Sh50 per 20-litre container.

He said the number of water-vending trucks had risen, raising suspicion that some water company managers may be deliberately causing shortages to gain from selling water.

"It is not clear why we have a shortage yet there has been rain lately. The situation is worse than when City Hall initially announced that there would be water rationing," he said.

The situation is the same in Githurai 44, where residents get tap water on Tuesdays and Thursdays for about 20 minutes each day.

Resident Nancy Njeri complained that the shortage has persisted for three months.

"Last week they let the water run for only 20 minutes at low pressure. This cannot even fill three jerrycans and yet we have clothes and children to wash and we also have to cook," she said.

In Umoja II, residents said they had complained to authorities but nothing has been done.

"We have been getting water only for two days per week, in trickles, yet the water company still levies the standing charge of Sh400 per month whether the water comes or not," said resident Mary Mbatha. "There is also a penalty of Sh1,000 if you fail to pay the charge on time".

The situation is worse in Lang'ata as the county can only supply 30 percent of the water needs of residents.

RATIONING TO CONTINUE

Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company (NCWSC) acting Managing Director Nahashon Muguna said water rationing will continue as the gap between demand and supply is still huge.

But he said things are not as bad as some consumers claim.

NCWSC produces a maximum of 526,000 cubic metres of water daily against demand of 790,000 cubic metres, he said.

Demand is estimated to increase by 20,000 cubic metres per year, he said, adding that the agency has harvested only 500,000 cubic metres since the rain started. "The estates have been getting water, but some residents expect to get it every day, which is not possible as we have to ration. Even after completion of the Northern Collector Tunnel the shortage will still continue," he said.

He rejected claims that residents were being charged even when they did not receive any water, saying that the only mandatory charge they impose is a disconnection fee of Sh1,000.

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