Taps run dry in Mombasa and Kilifi over unpaid Sh32 million bill

Water crisis has hit Mombasa and Kilifi counties since last Friday after KPLC disconnected power at the Baricho Water Works in Kilifi over a Sh32 million debt.Coast Water Service Board technical services manager Martin Tsuma yesterday said the Baricho Water Works has a capacity of 90 million litres of water daily.

The board has been blaming the county governments of failing to pay their debts in time, leading to the disconnection of power at the water sources.Since Friday, residents of Mombasa, Kilifi, Malindi and Watamu have been surviving on borehole water, which is very salty and unfit for human consumption.

Kisauni resident Asha Juma said water vendors, who had stored water in tanks, are now selling a 20 litre jerrycan for between Sh70-100.Yesterday, the CWSB assured the more than one million residents of Mombasa and Kilifi counties they will have their taps running with clean water by tomorrow. Board corporate affairs manager Fatma Gakuria said the matter has been resolved and residents should wait for at least one day to have water in their homes.

“We had an issue with the KPLC, but we sat down on Tuesday and resolved it. We have agreed on how we shall settle the bill,” she told the Star.

Gakuria said the water tanks at Baricho are completely empty and it will take almost a day to fill them up, before supply resumes.

“After the tanks are filled-up, we shall supply to Mombasa and Kilifi water companies. They will then be able to supply it to their clients,” she said.

Gakuria said, however, residents will have to bear with the water service companies, because due to the scarcity of the commodity, there will be rationing to ensure everyone is served.

“Residents should now talk to the water suppliers, the Mombasa Water Supply and Sanitation Company and the Kilifi Mariakani Water and Sewerage Company Ltd, to know the days when they will get water in their homes. We have done our part to restore supply,” she said.

This is not the first time the CWSB and the KPLC have had problems over accrued debts, leading to disconnection of power supply at the water sources.

The CSWB has also been in a tug-of-war with Coast counties over debts.

In 2015, the CWSB disconnected water to Mombasa, Kwale, Taita and Kilifi counties over a Sh1.2 billion debt.The KPLC and the Water Resources Management Authority had threatened to auction the CSWB’s assets to recover their money.

By that time, Mombasa county had the highest outstanding water bill of more than Sh608 million. It was followed by Kilifi with more than Sh188 million debt.Malindi subcounty owed the CSWB more than Sh140 million, while Kwale and Taita Taveta counties had more than Sh142 million and Sh121 million debts, respectively.

However, the county governments blamed the CSWB, saying the debts were accrued during the defunct municipal councils.CWSB chairman Granton Samboja was forced to convene a round-table meeting with the governors to look into how best to resolve the standoff.

 

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