At this rate, affordable tap water may soon dry up

Business Daily Kenya:  Water is becoming a commodity of the privileged. A new law allowing Water Services Regulatory Board (WASREB) to impo...

Business Daily Kenya: 

Tap water. Photo/File

Water is becoming a commodity of the privileged. A new law allowing Water Services Regulatory Board (WASREB) to impose a levy for development of sewerage networks will certainly make water more expensive.

The Water Act, which became law last year, has a commencement date and it is just a matter of time before the board revises the cost of water upwards. With the law, the regulator now has powers to impose the sewerage levy and it could end up charging five per cent of consumers’ water bills as it had proposed last year.

This is an unwelcome burden for Kenyans. Currently water consumers pay a sewerage cost equivalent to 75 per cent of the water bill, but this is mainly used for water development and not sewage services.

The current sewer charge should be redirected from improving and maintaining water connection infrastructure and meeting operation costs, to sewerage development and let water run its own expenses.

Many councils have developed sewerage systems using these funds and other sources. Only 25 counties out of the 47 have no sewerage coverage. This clearly shows sewerage development can be funded using the current levies and budget funding.

Most water providers reviewed their tariffs last year to cover for the high cost of electricity, water treatment chemicals, pipes, fuel, lubricants and fittings. It is, therefore, too soon for another review. Yes, we need most of the urban centres covered with sewerage systems, but not at the expense of water consumers.

Water is one of the most basic things a human being needs. It is, in fact, a matter of life and death and should thus be as widely accessible as possible. Alienating more people from it will be going against the principles of nature.

The government must find a way of funding sewerage systems. In any case, the cost of water needs to come down. It is sad to note that Machakos County, a region where the commodity is needed most, has the most expensive water, as if its price is determined by demand and supply.

The irony of all that is Mombasa, Kakamega and Busia have the second, third and fourth highest water charges in spite of getting some of the highest amounts of rain in the country and being close to huge water bodies. Already, water is more expensive than oil in Kenya.

While a litre of fuel is below Sh100, the same amount of bottled water sells well above this mark. If the national and county governments let the WASREB keep increasing charges, soon many people living in towns won’t afford tap water. That will be a disaster as private players have already infiltrated the market and commercialised water provision. The writer is the managing director of Business Today (http://bit.ly/1ZsCdpA) Email: lmulunda@businesstoday.co.ke

The post At this rate, affordable tap water may soon dry up appeared first on Mediamax Network Limited.

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