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Water Company disputes Sh.3.6 million power bill as taps remain dry in Lamu

The  Lamu Water and Sanitation Company (LAWASCO) has refuted claims that they owed Kenya Power Sh.3.6 million leading to the disconnection of water to more than 30, 0000 people in Lamu for the last three weeks.

The county’s main island has suffered acute water shortage for the past three weeks without any respite following an order by Kenya Power that it stays unconnected until the bill is settled.

Speaking to KNA on Tuesday, the LAWASCO Managing Director (MD), Paul Wainaina refuted the claims made by Kenya Power that the water company owed Sh3.6 million terming the disconnection malicious.

Wainaina noted that the amount owed to Kenya Power stood Sh.1.1million, adding that the figure would be paid at the end of the month (August).

He noted that indeed the disconnection has affected consumers and businesses around Lamu, revealing that a consultative meeting between the Kenya Power officials and County government executive has been held to come up with a resolution.

Wainaina outlined that LAWASCO has 34 wells that are connected to power, noting that Kenya Power did not switch off the meters in the wells, but went to the one that supplies water.

The director said that since assuming office in 2017, the water company paid Kenya power Sh.1.1 million for the same smart meter that he continued to pay to ensure that Lamu residents do not lack a fresh water supply.

“In June 2018, Kenya Power sent us a bill of Sh2 million in arrears which we have partially settled,” Wainaina divulged.

He  acknowledged that settling LAWASCO affairs especially arrears owed to suppliers had been a challenge yet sought to assure residents that the water supply would soon be restored.

The  LAWASCO MD noted that a prior 2018 meeting between Kenya Power Lamu Station Manager, Benson Kataka, Governor Fahim Twaha and LAWASCO had indeed yielded a solution in which the county government agreed that arrears would be settled in bits.

H e said that efforts to get audience from the manager through writing has always been ignored, even physical meetings have not been fruitful as Kataka always said he was busy.

“I have tried getting audience with Kataka so as to know why the bill escalates daily,” Wainaina stated.

However, Kataka said that the power company has been fair in its dealings with to LAWASCO regarding the payment of its arrears.

He said that LAWASCO has not extended the same courtesy of paying their bills on times despite billing their customers for a service which uses Kenya Power resources.

Hotels have not been left out of the crisis as their main source of water is LAWASCO with some having gone without tap water for three weeks.

Residents of Old Lamu town, Shella, Bombay, Kashmir, Wiyoni, India, Manda areas have been forced to use untreated water from open wells in the town posing a health risk.

LAWASCO has a total of 39 active small commercial electricity accounts with Kenya power, where each account serves at least one borehole, most of which are scattered around Shella waterworks at the Lamu island.

By Amenya Ochieng

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