The government plans to launch a specialised water revenue enforcement unit as part of a multi-agency intervention that will see the country save Sh10 billion that is lost annually through non-water revenue (NRW).
State Department for Water and Sanitation Principal Secretary Kipronoh Rono said the government was losing billions of shillings in the water sector and no effort would be spared in sealing all loopholes where revenue was getting lost.
The PS was speaking on Wednesday during his inaugural tour in Taita-Taveta County where he was assessing the water situation in the region.
Dr Rono launched an NRW team that will assist the water department in Taita-Taveta County to address losses in revenue collection during the tour.
The PS stated that the enforcement unit would work closely with Critical Infrastructure Protection Unit (CIPU) to safeguard key investments in the water sector to assist in elimination of revenue losses through compliance.
“What is lost to non-water revenue is money that can be ploughed back into the economy and help us provide clean and safe water to more Kenyans,” he said.
The PS was accompanied by Taita-Taveta County Commissioner Josephine Onunga, Governor Andrew Mwadime, Voi MP Abdi Chome, Women Rep Lydia Haika and Coast Water Works Agency CEO Martin Tsuma amongst other leaders.
NRW is water that is pumped into a distribution system but is either lost or cannot be accounted for.
This is caused by non-payment of consumed water, illegal connections, leakages or erroneous metering.
Dr Rono stated that the government had a plan to eliminate the menace of NRW in the country by establishing an elaborate water distribution network accompanied by efficient revenue collection systems.
In a month, Taita-Taveta County losses Sh19 million to unbilled water. “That money can be used to spur development in this region. This is what enforcement needs to be escalated,” said the PS.
The PS also toured the Mwatate Dam in the outskirts of Mwatate town which he said would be rehabilitated to boost the water sources in the water-deficient sub county. According to the initial estimates by Coast Water Works Agency, the total cost of rehabilitation, desilting and fencing will cost Sh175 million.
The PS further said the construction of the multi-billion Mzima 2 pipeline project would soon be launched to increase the volumes of water supplied to the Coast region.
Owing to the magnitude of the project, the PS explained that the government was keen on giving immediate intervention to address the water scarcity challenge in the region.
Part of the immediate intervention will be drilling of six boreholes that will be solar-powered to cut costs on energy.
He also stated that the government would construct multiple watering places in strategic places inside the national parks to stop wildlife from Tsavo National Park from straying into human settlement areas.
“The animals come to look for water when it is dry. We will build three water pans to stop them from getting into settlement zones,” said the PS.
The PS also raised concerns about the grabbing of government land by private investors. He disclosed that out of the 29 land parcels owned by the Ministry of Water, nine had already been grabbed by unscrupulous individuals.
He stated that an audit of the ministry’s land would be conducted to ascertain the status of the land parcels and those found to have occupied government land would be dealt with firmly.
Governor Andrew Mwadime said the county was ready to offer any kind of support to the Ministry of Water to extend the water networks in the region.
He pointed out that despite the region being home to some of the biggest water sources in the Coast region including Mzima Springs and Njoro Kubwa springs, vast areas had acute water shortages that needed urgent addressing.
“We have adequate water sources. What we need is empowerment and support to bring that water to our people,” he said.
By Wagema Mwangi