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Water companies seek bailout to sustain their operations

Water companies in the country are seeking a bailout from the government after revenue collection declined due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Management of 88 water firms want the government to support them with Sh.10 billion to help them sustain their operations.

According to the Water Service Providers Association (WASPA) CEO, Antony Ambugo, revenue collection by the companies have dropped from 94 to 30 percent since March when the government moved in and closed some business entities and learning institutions to combat the spread of covid-19.

Speaking to KNA on Friday, Ambugo said that closure of some business entities like hotels, restaurants and learning institutions was a major blow to water companies’ revenue.

“Learning institutions, bars, restaurants among other businesses affected by Covid-19 pandemic were a major source of revenue to water companies,” noted Ambugo.

Ambugo said that they were requesting the companies to be supplied with water treatment chemicals, subsidized power bills among other costs of operations to ensure they continued supplying customers with water.

“Most of the water companies are facing big challenges in paying their employees and acquiring chemicals for treating water. Infrastructural developments currently can’t be attained as there is no revenue to sustain such developments,” explained the CEO.

Ambugo  said before the outbreak of Covid 19, water firms used to collect close to Sh.1.6 billion per month from customers compared to Sh.479 million collected currently, leaving a Sh.1.119 billion deficit.

The firms were ordered by the government to suspend disconnection of water to those with outstanding bills for a three months’ period effective from April.

“Water service provision would be a difficult undertaking if the government will not step in to cushion the companies from the aftermath of Covid 19,” said the CEO.

He observed that the firms were struggling with monthly bills including, electricity (Sh.250 million), salaries (Sh.900 million), and chemicals (Sh.200 million) among other expenditures.

The water companies, he said, were also spending close to Sh300 million for distribution of water to the informal settlements, to enhance hand washing to improve hygiene to stop the spread of the disease.

The companies have through partnership with several stakeholders installed 6,512 water tanks in market centers where soaps were also supplied.

Last year, the Water Services Regulatory Board (Wasreb) in a report stated that only 57 percent of Kenyans have access to clean water, and 25 percent to sewerage services.

By Bernard Munyao

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