Water shortage hits Isiolo town and environs as officials decry vandalism

Water pipe

Isiolo Water and Sanitation Company (Iwasco) workers fix a broken main pipe collecting water from Rugusu intake in Meru which was vandalised at Maili Tatu within Ruiri junction.

Photo credit: Waweru Wairimu I Nation Media Group

Residents of Isiolo town and parts of Bulapesa and Wabera wards have lamented frequent water shortages for over a month, forcing them to ration the commodity.

Some of the lucky residents have received water once in the past two weeks, while others are digging deeper into their pockets to access water sold at exorbitant prices. A 20-litre jerrycan of untreated water sells for as much as Sh50.

A number of hotels in the Kulamawe and Mwangaza areas have closed due to the crisis, which has led to poor hygiene, putting residents at high risk of contracting water-borne diseases.

There are reports of a cholera outbreak in the county, although health officials have dismissed the information as propaganda.

"I may soon be forced to close my hotel because it is expensive to buy water and the rationing affects hygiene," said Mr Dennis Mutiso, a hotel owner in Poolman.

Residents and businesspeople blamed the Isiolo Water and Sanitation Company (Iwasco) for failing to address the problem, saying it was only concerned with collecting water bills.

Water infrastructure

Iwasco manager Abdullahi Sora attributed the shortages to vandalism of water infrastructure, saying two incidents had been reported in the past week.

He asked police to investigate the crimes, including Monday's destruction of the main pipe that draws water from the Rugusu River intake in Meru near Ruiri Junction.

"We suspect the criminals want to cut off supply to schools, hospitals and other institutions to create a crisis and appeal to security agencies to speed up investigations and make arrests," Mr Sora said.

The official said the rationing had been triggered by a drop in supply at Isiolo River's Kambi ya Juu intake following massive abstraction upstream.

"We are supposed to get water at the intake three times a week, but lack of enforcement has deprived us of the commodity due to a surge in cases of illegal abstraction," he noted.

County water executive Ali Wario Sarite said they had suffered unnecessary losses while carrying out repairs to the water pipeline in the past two weeks.