The Malindi Water and Sewerage Company (MAWASCO) has announced plans to install automatic water meters inside customers’ houses to stem rising theft of meters and their accessories.
The Managing Director, Gerald Mwambire said the company would pilot the installation of water meters that have the capability of reading and sending data directly to computers in the company offices without being read by its staff.
“We want to pilot a project in which meters will be installed inside houses. If this is successful, there will be no need for our officers to go and read the meters as they (meters) will be automatically sending the readings for billing,” he said.
Speaking during the launch of the company’s five-year strategic plan at the Nidhamia Hall in Malindi Town on Monday, Mwambire lamented that the water firm had lost millions of shillings to meter vandals.
He said at least fifty meters are destroyed every month, translating to a loss of about Sh.4.2 million annually, hence the need to institute innovative measures to protect the company and its customers.
When meters are lost, customers have to bear the cost of installing new meters, he said adding that the company also loses a lot in unaccounted for water that goes to waste before the new meters are fixed.
“In the past we were forced to replace metallic meters with plastic ones, but the thieves have now started stealing the metallic fittings such as gate valves.
“In the short term, we shall start installing plastic fittings and increase surveillance, but we want in the long run to install automatic meters inside houses,” he said.
He said the most affected areas were Ngala and Maweni where at least 20 meters had been stolen the previous night.
Mwambire said officers would zero in on small hardware shops in Malindi and Watamu towns among other urban centres as it is suspected the vandals sell the stolen items to those shops.
At the same time, Mwambire said his company was planning to install solar panels in its water pumping sites to reduce electricity bills, which he said had gone to as high as Sh.41 million per month.
“We have already installed solar power at some of our boreholes in Marafa, Magarini Sub County, and we want to do this in other areas in order to reduce the power bills,” he said.
Mwambire lauded the Kilifi County Government for paying water bills promptly but faulted other government agencies which he said had huge pending bills.
A participant during the forum, Kibadi Kipanga, welcomed the idea of installing water power and said he hoped this would also reduce water bills to the consumer.
By Emmanuel Masha/Dorothy Makori