Kakamega water firm banks on smart metres to curb losses

Kakamega County Water and Sanitation Company (KACWASCO) inspecting one of the meters in Kakamega County. [Mumo Munuve, Standard]

Kakamega County Water and Sanitation Company (KACWASCO) plans to adopt Co-polymer water meters to curb massive losses.

The company's management said they have been losing 42 per cent of water as non-revenue water due to metre theft and illegal connections.

Speaking to The Standard, KACWASCO Managing Director Michael Ogol said more than 15 metres were stolen in the last month, which resulted in illegal water connections.

The metres have brass that vandals sell to metal dealers. The MD said the Co-polymer smart metres are pure plastic and cannot be sold as scrap metal.

“We have areas of Milimani, Amalemba, and Shikambi estates within Kakamega town which are notorious for cases of metre theft and illegal connections of water which is making the company lose 42 per cent of water and that is why our customers experience water rationing,” said Ogol.

“We have discovered that the brass component inside our meters is highly marketable and very expensive which is why we are experiencing high cases of theft, however, we are adopting the use of Co-polymer metres which are purely plastic and cannot be sold as scrap metal,” he added. 

The MD announced that the company has started mapping out areas earmarked for the installation of plastic meters in the county to ensure water supply to the people in line with Kakamega Governor Fernandes Barasa ‘Amatsi Khumuliango initiative,' loosely translated as water at the doorstep.

“When we put to an end stealing of water metres this will stop people from having illegal water connections because the metres will be working and we will be able to track and monitor them in case of any attempt to tamper with the metres because at this point we are losing a lot of revenue,” he said.

Ogol said KACWASCO is collaborating with chiefs and other local administrators in an awareness drive to urge households to report metre theft and ensure scrap metal dealers are licensed.

“We want those using our water to report any case about stolen water metres, we are also advocating for our clients to construct a structure that protects the metre and give one key to our workers to enable them to conduct inspection,” he said.

He noted that a normal smart metre goes for Sh8,500 while the expensive one retails at Sh1 million and the old metres cost Sh3,500 to Sh5,000 per piece.

KACWASCO Principal Legal Officer Christabel Ashiono said they have active cases in court following the arrest of some suspects over theft of water metres.

"We have one suspect in custody for stealing a church water metre and the case is ongoing and we are after another suspect who is on the run and we want to urge our people to stop stealing water metres because it is against the law, if found the law will catch up with them, water is a basic right and that is what we are trying to offer to our people," said Ashiono.