By Protus Onyango
Nairobi,KENYA: Residents of Kahawa West in Nairobi County are a happy lot after water flowed through their taps after a decade.
The over 400,000 residents have each been spending averagely Sh6,000 monthly to buy water.
But thanks to Nairobi Water and Sewerage Company, the residents started receiving water two months ago.
The company’s Managing Director Philip Gichuki (pictured) says they realised the problem faced by the Kahawa West residents and carried out two major projects not only to supply water to them but other city residents.
Mr Gichuki says the company has completed the Kirigiti water project that now supplies water to Kahawa West residents.
“The project based in Kiambu has a 300 diameter pipe that has enabled us to provide water to 33,000 connections that now makes water available to about 400,000 residents who have never had water for very many years. Even those who live in highrise buildings get the water,” Mr Gichuki said.
The MD says the project also supplies water to the Kenyatta University and Kamiti Prison.
“Before the commissioning of this project, Kenyatta University used to get water from a borehole. But that has stopped because we now supply them water by gravity, saving the university a lot of money used for power,” Mr Gichuki said.
Mr Gichuki says his company also commissioned the Ngethu water project to supply more water to Eastlands area of Nairobi.
“For two years now, residents of Embakasi NSSF houses have had no water supplied to them by our company. Our engineers redesigned the pipe and this has allowed us to supply water to 3,000 units of the NSSF estate,” Mr Gichuki said. He added, “We have also installed an additional pipeline from Gigiri to Kiamaiko that now supplies more clean water to Donholm, Umoja and Kayole areas”.
Despite the successes, Mr Gichuki said his company still faces many challenges.
“In the last two years, we now produce 564,000 cubic litres daily, up from 440,000 cubic litres that were being produced in 2010. But we have a shortfall of 100,000 cubic litres to meet Nairobi’s demand of 650,000 cubic litres daily,” Mr Gichuki said.
“We have commissioned a study to help us remodel our pipes and by 2017, we shall be able to provide water to all city residents throughout. We want everyone to get piped water 24 hours a day,” he added.
The MD said the sewerage system has also collapsed. “We need to rehabilitate the sewerage system and build more lines. Currently, only 40 per cent of Nairobi is connected to the sewer. ,” Mr Gichuki said.
He called on the public to protect the company’s to enable them engage in other projects making water provision better.
“Let the public be vigilant so that manhole covers and valves are not stolen. If our facilities are stolen, automatically we shall transfer the cost to the consumer,” Mr Gichuki said.
The MD pointed out that encroachment on its facilities is another challenge.
“Our duty houses at Gigiri and Kariobangi North Sewerage Treatment Works have been encroached on. We want the encroachers to vacate so that we can fully access our facilities,” he said.
He added that his company has partnered with the World Bank to launch the Maji Voice project under Water and Sanitation programme to work closely with the customers.
“We want to be able to communicate directly to the customer and we are working on a system where the customer will be able to access any officer including myself incase of a problem,” he said.
He urged customers to pay their bills so that so that they continue enjoying water supply uninterrupted.
But many Kahawa West residents called on the company to deal with the issue of exaggerated water bills.
“I went to pay my bill for two months but was told it was Sh25,000. There is no way my family of three could have used water worth that amount,” said Mumba Chokwe.