Kenya: Faulty Billing System Costing City Water Firm Millions

(file photo).

Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company continues to lose millions of shillings due to a faulty water billing system despite promises for an upgrade.

The utility firm lost a whopping Sh13.6 million in only a year in the financial year ending June 30, 2018 due to the faulty system.

According to a report by Nairobi County Assembly Public Investments Committee (PIC), Nairobi Water lost the millions in the period between July, 2017 and June, 2018 through the company's customer management system 'Oracle Database Programme' also known as 'sequence'.

The committee chaired by Upper Savanna MCA Stazo Omung'ala also revealed that there were several gaps in the revenue collection database, meaning the water firm could not account for records and the revenue collected in the year under review.

SH1.3 MILLION

The report revealed that in 2017, the system could not account for Sh1.3 million in revenue for the month of July, August (Sh845,199), September (Sh1.02 million), October (Sh978,736), November (Sh951,760) and Sh1.22 million in the month of December.

In 2018, Sh1.3 million could not be accounted for in January, February (Sh1.17 million), March (Sh1.3 million), April (Sh1.14 million), May (Sh1.5 million), and June (Sh1.06 million) bringing the total to Sh13.67 million for the 2017/18 fiscal year.

"The company is losing huge financial resources and the committee had noted that is a deliberate act. The use of the program, also known as sequence, was seen as the prime cause for variance in results as explained by the management," read the report in part.

The committee was considering the report of the Auditor-General on the financial statements for the company for the year ended June 2018.

However, Nairobi Water Company managing director Nahashon Muguna, while appearing before the committee, said that the disparities or gaps in the billing system were caused when multiple cashiers tried to generate payment receipts from the system all at once.

Mr Muguna explained that the only way for the billing system to be accurate was if one cashier was generating a receipt at a time while all the other users of the system wait for the transaction to complete before they can generate a new receipt to avoid interfering with the receipt process.

Nonetheless, the committee now wants the company to upgrade its billing system. In 2018, the firm said plans were underway to procure a software to help it detect overpayments and underpayments in water bills.

BILLING ERRORS

This was after it was revealed that the firm loses over Sh3.2 billion due to faulty metering and billing systems.

The water firm admitted to having challenges arising from billing errors, meter tampering by customers and overpayments leading to the company having customers with credit balances to the tune of over Sh152 million in 2017.

This having risen from Sh88.8 million in June 2016 with the firm blamed for having accounts that continue to reflect credit balances despite being active.

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