Kenya: Water Authority Says Charges to Be Reviewed Upwards

22 October 2019

The Water Resources Authority (WRA) has said it is reviewing rates for bulk water users in a move expected to increase charges for the basic commodity for end users.

WRA Chairman Joe Mutambu said the firms pay so little money which is not enough for the authority to carry out its activities.

But Mr Mutambu said WRA will consult all stakeholders including consumers before increasing the rates.

He lamented that despite the "meagre" charges levied for the supply of water to the firms, some of them do not pay, forcing the regulator to disconnect supply.

ARREARS

Currently, water companies in the Tana region owe the authority Sh34 million.

Some water firms have, however, denied owing the authority any money, with an official at the Meru Water and Sewerage Services (Mewass) saying they have paid all their dues.

However, it is the move to increase the rates that is likely to face opposition from the water firms.

It is expected to see a hike in the charges of the essential commodity across the country, with water service providers saying they will also increase retail charges once WRA reviews the rates upwards.

RUNNING COSTS

"We also have our running costs that include buying chemicals for treating the water and taking care of the piping system. Any increase by the authority will mean that we also raise our retail rates," said a Mewass official who declined to be named citing the politics associated with the proposal.

"WRA has not demonstrated that they properly utilise the money we pay because even as we speak, we are getting water which is so muddy that we have to spend a lot of resources to clean it. WRA should work on conservation measures on the riparian land upstream to ensure clean water flows into the rivers," the official added.

REVIEW A MUST

But Mr Mutambu maintained that the review is inevitable, adding that the increment is "long overdue".

"The rates are too low at only 50 cents per cubic metre and we are consulting stakeholders so that we set in motion a process that will see us increase the rates," he told Nation Tuesday in a telephone interview.

The WRA boss also lamented that the water firms have also opposed introduction of smart metres but the authority will nevertheless install them to enable the regulator remotely switch off those who do not comply.

REGULATE USAGE

Without metres, a lot of water is going to waste since companies draw more than they have paid for but once the gadgets are installed, WRA will be able to regulate usage and match payments with quantities consumed, Mr Mutambu said.

"A time is coming when we will not need to go to the rivers to disconnect supply. Whether they like it or not we will install these metres because it is the only way to instil order in the water sector," he warned.

WRA Upper Eastern Regional Manager Bernard Omuya said they are encouraging the companies to come up with legislation to force people to build reservoirs so that they can tap rain water.

"Every time it rains, there is a lot of runoff water but you find people using water from their taps instead of harvesting rain water," said Mr Omuya.

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