For more than a year, Martha Mwangi, a resident of Nairobi’s South B estate has been buying water from vendors moving around with handcarts within the neighbourhood.
The mother of two has been doing that to supplement tap water that drips in their homes twice per week or less in what many Nairobi residents call ‘water rationing’. The same is replicated almost in all estates in some cases, cartels disconnect the water flow so as to sell to the desperate residents at exorbitant charges.
This could now be a thing of the past as Nairobi County is to get additional supply of water from the Northern Water Collector Tunnel this year. Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja has announced the project that had been facing some hurdles for more than a year now.
“We have unlocked the challenge that was preventing Nairobi from getting water and on February, 25 we are going launch the 140m litres per day,” said Sakaja.
The project includes diverting rivers and removing of some structures along the course of river Maragua, Gikigie and Irati. Sakaja said the project will involves construction of an outlet at Githika River which will convey the additional water to Thika dam.
“The project had stalled because of some challenges like land compensation. It took the intervention of President William Ruto, National Land Commission and myself to unlock the impasse,” Sakaja explained.
“The project was to be completed in 2024, but due to the high-level intervention water will be flowing by end of next month,” the governor said.
Sakaja said the county will also introduce technology to curb the cartels who have been stealing water.
“That will allow us to see where the water is being disconnected to create a market for cartels,” he added.
Recently the Nairobi County Assembly approved a motion to roll out automated water meters for Nairobi Water Company to save them from losses and give residents water round the clock.
Clay City MCA Mwaura Samora who moved the motion tabled a report showing how cartels have been giving residents sleepless nights for many years.
“Nairobi Water is mandated to provide its services to a projected population of 5.9 million residents but some parts of the city are still experiencing water shortages,” Mwaura explained.
The member said the shortages are artificial as result of illegal connection undetected pipe leakages among others exposing the company to losses. In his report Mwaura said that to avoid such losses, the automated meters will come with a tamper proof system that will be able to relay a signal to the company about illegal diversion and attempts to break the pipes.
The study indicated that there is a demand of 810,000 cubic metres of water in Nairobi, but only 526,000 cubic metres is available.