Water Services Providers (WSPs) in the country want the government to support them by purchasing for them water treatment chemicals, offsetting their electricity bills and subsiding their staff expenses for three months in the wake of Covid-19.
They feared they may encounter challenges in treating and supplying clean water to Kenyans grappling with the Covid-19 pandemic due to reduced revenue collections.
There are 88 WSPs in the country are owned by the county governments and are mandated to provide safe water and sanitation and hygienic conditions to their clients. However, they are not funded by the exchequer.
Through the Water Services Providers Association (Waspa), they expressed concern that their ability to provide sustainable water service may be compounded by poor liquidity among citizens and institutions that will affect prompt payment of water bills.
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Waspa CEO Anthony Ambugo said they are facing reduced collection efficiency, which in effect will make WSPs struggle to meet costs of operation and maintenance such staff salaries, electricity bills and water treatment chemicals.
Ambugo said the water companies require Sh1.7 billion on monthly basis -including: personnel expenditure Sh900 million, chemicals Sh205 million, electricity Sh250 million and, fees and levies Sh195 million-, which is raised through monies paid by consumers in form of water & sewerage bills.
He said over the last two weeks, average national collection efficiency is now at 30 percent.
“These implies that water companies can only raise around Sh510 million on monthly basis in which case they will not be able to prosecute their mandate at a time when all taps should have running water,” he said.
Ambugo also called for waiving of fees and levies on water, zero rating of chemicals for water supply and reviewing of electricity tariffs for them.
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Another mitigation measures he floated is that the Ministries of Health and that of Water should set up a water treatment chemicals bank for important chemicals such as chlorine, alum and soda ash.
The CEO also pointed at the information circulating in the media that customers with outstanding water bills will not be disconnected following an agreement between the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Water and Sanitation and Irrigation
“The import of these is that even customers who are able to pay their bills are now reluctant to do so. This is now the biggest threat to sustainable water service provision for WSPs. Apart consumers in informal settlement areas, the rest should pay their bills and if unable to should enter into paying arrangements with their water companies,” said Ambugo.
He called for a ministerial directive encouraging consumers to pay their bills promptly to sustain water service provision.
In addition, he suggested for subsidies on electricity for some WSPs. He noted that the Government of Ghana has committed to pay water bills for its citizens.
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Ambugo said the WSPs continue to comply with directives and protocols issued by The Government of Kenya and the Ministry of Water.
He added that at least 46 WSPs and one NGO (KWAHO) have installed 1740 handing washing points in strategic places within their respective areas of jurisdiction in the Country.