Firms ask for Sh1.7 billion to keep the taps flowing

Water service providers have called on the government to provide them with free treatment chemicals as well as subsidise their wage bills to stay afloat. [Omondi Onyango, Standard]

Water service providers in the country have asked the government to subsidise their wage bills and offset their power bills for three months in the wake of Covid-19.

They are also calling on the government to buy them water treatment chemicals.

According to the Water Service Providers Association (Waspa), the measures would help players in the industry deal with the effects of Covid-19 on their businesses.

They fear they may find it hard to continue supplying clean water to Kenyans due to reduced revenues owing to the ravages of the pandemic.

Waspa says their ability to provide sustainable water service may be hindered by reduced income among citizens and institutions.

Reduce collections

Waspa CEO Anthony Ambugo said their members are facing reduced collections, which will in turn see them struggle to meet operation costs such as staff salaries, electricity bills and water treatment chemicals.

There are currently 88 providers in the country, but they are not funded by the exchequer.

Mr Ambugo said the water companies require Sh1.7 billion every month to cater for personnel (Sh900 million), chemicals (Sh205 million), electricity (Sh250 million), and fees and levies (Sh195 million).

He said the average nationwide collection from water services now stands at 30 per cent.

“This means water companies can only raise about Sh510 million every month,” he said.

Ambugo also called for waiver of fees and levies on water, zero-rating of chemicals for water supply and reviewing of electricity tariffs.

He said Health and Water ministries should set up a water treatment chemicals bank for important chemicals such as chlorine, alum and soda ash.

Reluctant to pay

“The thing is, even customers who are able to pay their bills are now reluctant to do so. This is the biggest threat to sustainable water service provision for service providers. Apart from consumers in informal settlements, the rest should pay their bills and if unable to, they should enter into a pay arrangement with water companies,” said Ambugo.

He called for a ministerial directive encouraging consumers to pay their bills promptly to sustain water service provision.

He added that at least 46 providers and one non-governmental organisation had installed 1,740 handing washing points in strategic places within their respective areas of jurisdiction in the country.