A Murang’a water company has embarked on a process of collecting views from residents towards its plan to increase water tariffs.
The Murang’a Water and Sanitation Company (MUWASCO) on Friday held its first stakeholders’ forum to collect views on its proposal, aimed at helping the firm meet its operations cost.
The water company is currently struggling to service a loan amounting to Sh.695 million, which was sourced to build a new water plant and expand sewerage system within Murang’a town.
The loan was acquired before 2013 by the Tana Water Services Board on behalf of the government to assist the firm treat more water so as to connect more residents.
Speaking during the public forum, the MUWASCO Managing Director, Eng. Daniel Ng’ang’a noted that since two years ago when water tariffs were reduced, the company has been unable to settle the loan which continues to accrue more interest.
He said Sh.520 million of the loan was used to establish new water treatment plant at Kiawambeu while Sh.175 million was used to expand sewerage network within Murang’a town and its environs.
Ng’ang’a told the stakeholders that after the county government pushed for lowering of minimum water tariffs from Sh.500 to Sh.300, the firm has been struggling to meet its cost of production.
The MD observed that Water tariffs are regulated by Water Services Regulatory Board (WASREB) to protect consumers from exploitation by water companies.
He added that all water companies are required to pay some commission to Water Regulatory Management Authority (WARMA), an expense that MUWASCO has been unable to meet.
“Locally, anybody who draws water from a water source is required to pay 50 cents for every one cubic metre drawn,” he said, adding that the debts have now accumulated to Sh.8 million.
Ng’ang’a pointed out that WARMA has issued all water companies in the county with notices to pay the arrears or face closure.
Water companies operating within Murang’a County have proposed change of tariffs and sent them to WASREB for analysis in accordance to its guidelines before they gazette them.
“But the first stage is to talk to stakeholders and it is why we organized this forum so that they can give their views,” Ng’ang’a said.
Stakeholders present unanimously allowed the company to increase the tariffs slightly so as to enable the operations of the firm run smoothly.
The stakeholders drawn from areas served by the company, hailed MUWASCO for provision of clean water to its customers.
They expressed concern that the company may be closed down if it fails to repay the loan and meet its operations costs.
By Bernard Munyao