July 14, 2020

Water Shortage Continues to Hit Mombasa as Residents Revert to Unsafe Boreholes

Mombasa locals queue to get at least a 20 litre can of water to suffice their needs. Image ; Courtesy

By Charles Ogallo and Sakina Chiro

Hundreds of residents in Mombasa risk contracting diseases due to prolonged water shortage which has affected the county since last year.

The county has been facing water scarcity since last year as a result of frequent mechanical breakdowns and power supply surge at Baricho Water Project in Sabaki , Kilifi County ,forcing many residents to look for alternative sources known to be unsafe and unhygienic .

Areas most affected include Kisauni, Mvita, Nyali and Likoni where residents now depend on boreholes and water venders known to sell the commodity at a higher price.

Aisha Osman, a resident of Kibokoni area of Mombasa whose family has not seen fresh water in their taps for the last one year said they have been depending on borehole water which is salty and sometimes unhygienic for domestic use.

“All my life I have been depending on water from borehole which is inside our house but sometimes we buy fresh water from vendors who sell it at 50 shillings per Jeri can” says Aisha.

A few meters away lives Khadija Abubakar, a middle aged housewife and a victim who said the prolonged water shortage in Mombasa has highly affected her family in terms of cost as they spend more of their incomes on water.

“Water is so expensive here and as a family we are being forced to use more than kshs 4,000 monthly only on water , we need the government to intervene and gives us a permanent solution on this” she complained

According to her, the County government of Mombasa through Mombasa Water and Sewerage Company has not done enough to bring a lasting solution to the problem of water shortage in the county.

Long queues of vendors could be seen in most of the areas with Jeri cans full of water from boreholes as the shortage continues to bite.

At a borehole in Ganjoni area within the Island, long queues of handcarts was seen as water vendors struggle to get supply for their customers

A number of water vendors also said lack of fresh water particularly in the Island area of Mombasa have forced them to look for the commodity as far as from Kongowea in Nyali constituency where there is main water point s and in turn sell it at exorbitant price to the residents who are in dare need of water in the island.

A water vendor supplies water in homesteads. A 20 litre jerican sells at ksh50. Image: Courtesy

A frequent water vendor at Kibokoni only known as Karisa is a happy man since the water problem has boasted his business as the number of his customers continues to increase due to high demand of water from private water vendors.

“We are getting fresh water as far as from Kongowea and when we come here we sell each Jerican at 50 shillings because this area has no fresh water “ Karisa said happily as he pushes his handcart loaded with jericans full of fresh water along the corridors of Kibokoni in Old Town .

Mombasa Water and Sewerage Company whose main mandate is supply fresh water to the residents of Mombasa has been carrying out a water rationing plan across the county to see that every area gets water at a designated day.

According to a notice published in the company website, Kisauni should be receiving tap water four days a week; Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday.

Island which consists of Kibokoni and Mvita should be receiving water every Monday, Thursday and Friday while Nyali receives the commodity on Monday, Thursday and Friday.

Moreover, the company through the County government will be capitalizing on the planned construction of a water desalination plant in Mombasa to ease the situation.

The proposed project is expected to produce 100,000cubic meters of fresh water daily which means the county would not be depending on water supply from Baricho –Sabaki Dam.

The company data show that Baricho water project has the capacity of supplying more than 96,000 cubic meter of water daily but only 76,000 cubic meters is being supplied daily to Malindi, Kilifi and Mombasa.

Wrangles between the Company and the Coast Water Works Services over unpaid electricity bills was claimed to be behind frequent power blackout and disconnection of electricity at Baricho water project hence stoppage of water supply to Mombasa..

However, several attempts to reach the company management were unfruitful as Chief Executive Officer Francis Kombe was said to have been held up in a meeting since morning.

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