Pain for residents in plan to increase price of water

Jomvu water supply

Jomvu residents wait outside the Mombasa cement factory for water supplied for free, August 23, 2020.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Residents will in coming months have to dig deeper into their pockets following plans by the Mombasa Water Supply and Sanitation Company (Mowasco) to raise water tariffs.

Mowasco attributed the increase to high power charges, but urged the residents to plead with their MPs to urgently address the matter through Parliament.

The city depends on Kilifi, Kwale and Taita-Taveta counties for fresh water. Plans to set up a Sh16 billion desalination plant are said to have been put on hold because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Currently, the lowest charge costs Sh450. However, Mowasco managing director Anthony Njaramba says there is a high possibility of increasing the charges because power cost has gone up.

“To pump water from Baricho or Tiwi, a kilowatt of electricity costs Sh20 while that for street lighting is Sh7. This is a problem. Between street lights and water, which one is more important? Ask your leaders to ensure there is water, plead with them to prioritise this commodity,” Mr Njaramba said while addressing a public forum on licence application under the Water Act 2016.

Tariffs have expired

Mr Njaramba said Mowasco had asked the Water Services Regulatory Board (Wasreb) to allow them to continue charging the old tariff due to the pandemic.

“We’ve been given enough time. Our tariffs have expired so this month we may start charging using the new tariff,” he said.

The county has been grappling with an acute water shortage which has been attributed to inadequate supply and illegal connections leading to rationing.

Mombasa gets an average of 30,000 cubic metres against a demand of 200,000 according to county government statistics.

But the county plans to set up a Sh16 billion desalination plant, which is set be the region’s first. It will be built by Almar Water Solutions of Spain and Switzerland’s Aqua Swiss. Aqua Swiss has been awarded a contract to build a smaller desalination plant in Likoni that can purify 30,000 cubic metres per day while Almar Water Solutions will put up the desalination plant in the north of the mainland.

Water law

President Kenyatta approved acquisition of more than 10 acres at the Shimo La Tewa Secondary School for the desalination plant.

In the Water Act 2016, all water vendors will be required to get a licence to sell the commodity.

 Wasreb CEO Robert Gakubia urged water service providers to ensure all informal settlement dwellers have access to clean water.

He said the national government is investing in water including Marere, Baricho, Mzima springs and Mwache dam.

Acting chief officer in charge of Water, Sanitation and Natural Resources, Albert Keno, said the county needs 200,000 cubic metres daily to meet its demand.

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