Nairobi residents stare at water prices increase
City residents are staring at an increase in water prices after the Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company (NCWSC) applied to the regulator to raise tariffs citing rising costs in delivering the commodity to residents.
In a gazette notice on Friday, the Water Services Regulatory Board (Wasreb) said Nairobi Water, which is a fully-owned subsidiary of the Nairobi City County government, had applied for a regular tariff review ‘to enable the water utility to operate at full cost recovery and meet conditions necessary for improving service delivery’.
“Notice is given to the general public that Nairobi Water which provides water services by authority of a licence issued by Wasreb has applied to the Wasreb for a regular tariff review,” said the Authority.
The tariffs, which are reviewed every three years, will undergo public participation for scrutiny before being reviewed or approved for use by Wasreb for the next three-year cycle from the financial years 2022/23 to 2024/25.
Nairobi Water wants to raise the cost of the commodity for small households and residential apartments that consume less than six cubic-metres (m3) monthly by a third to Sh45/m3 up from the current Sh34/m3.
The move that is set to hit households that are already heaving under high cost of living driven by heavy taxation and supply shortages amid high demand has pushed sharp increases in the cost of food, fuel and cooking gas.
Meanwhile, those who use more than 300m3 of water each month will pay Sh80/m3 up from the current tariff of Sh64 for the same quantity, while multi-dwelling units and gated communities, who are currently enjoying a subsidised tariff of Sh53/m3 will now be paying Sh67.
However, Nairobi Water has reserved the lowest water price increases for bulk water suppliers and water kiosks increasing their tariffs by just Sh2/m3 to Sh32 from Sh30 and to Sh22 from Sh20 for the two categories respectively. This is aimed at cushioning the poorest segments of the population who lack access to piped water and other water-starved areas of the city that rely on supply from bowsers and water kiosks.
Should the tariffs be approved, some of the conditions attached to the review by Wasreb is for Nairobi Water to increase water coverage to 85 per cent of the city within three years from the current 82 per cent, improve water quality to 100 per cent from 91 per cent, and lower the ratio of water it supplies without deriving revenue from it to 41 per cent from 46 per cent.
The company wants to use part of the revenue from the higher tariffs to pay loans from lenders such as the World Bank and the African Development Bank of Sh78.5 million due for payment next year, Sh78.1 million due in 2024 and Sh68.4 million in 2025.
The high water prices come at a time consumers are facing one of the toughest periods in recent history with a worrying increase in the cost of goods that has seen a section of Kenyans take to the streets to protest the high cost of living.
This as Kenya’s inflation rate hit a 58-month high last month even as new tax measures that have kicked in this month to fund the Sh3.3 trillion budget for the new financial year is set to add further pressure on the cost of goods and services.
Inflation rose to 7.9 per cent in June from 7.1 per cent in May, the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics reported last week, exceeding the Central Bank of Kenya’s target ceiling of 7.5 per cent for the first time in almost five years.
The statistics office said the sharp rise in June is linked to increases in the price of essential items like cooking oil, food, fuel, and soap, squeezing household budgets and demand for goods and services.