Biting water shortage hits Kwale residents amid heavy rains

Thousands of people and businesses have been affected by an acute water shortage following a major breakdown at Marere Water Works in Kwale County.

The shortage has forced at least three water bottling companies, Wema, Marere and Lenana to shut down operations and send their workers home.

The crisis has persisted for almost a month while ironically, the region continues to record heavy rainfall which has so far killed five people, rendered others homeless and ruined roads and water infrastructure.

Frequent power outages caused by the rains damaged a water pump at Marare while fierce floods destroyed the main pipeline to Kinango triggering the water crisis in among other areas, Kwale and Kinango towns according to Kwale Water and Sewerage Company (KWSC) Technical Manager, Swaleh Chidzuga.

A heavy downpour has destroyed a12-inch pipe at Marere which also supplies water to Kinango Sub County and Mombasa, said Chidzuga.

He said the repair of the pipe would cost Sh.80 million and was being undertaken by Coast Water Coast Water Service Board in collaboration with the National Disaster Management Committee.

However, the repairs were yet to start as the engineers have to wait for the water level to subside in River Marere across which the pipeline passed.

Chidzuga said the defective pump was taken to Mombasa for repairs and that water services were expected to resume in Kwale by Tuesday.

A similar problem of water shortage is also being experienced in Kombani area in Matuga Sub County after a water pump stalled due to heavy rains.

Most of the mechanical problems affecting the water pumps are as a result of sporadic power outages which have hit the region due to the rains, said Chidzuga in a telephone interview with KNA on Monday.

Residents and the business community in Kwale town said they had resorted to buying water from privately owned boreholes at a cost Sh7 per a 20-litre jerrican.

Business has been booming for borehole owners with one who did not want to be identified, saying he sells 4, 000 litres of water per day since the crisis set in.

A hotel owner, Catherine Mwaka said she was incurring a lot of costs buying water to sustain her business.

I spend Sh.1, 000 daily buying and transporting water from a borehole which is eating into my profits, said Mwaka who hopes the water supply would soon be restored.

A spokesman for butchery operators Joseph Mdoe said they had been relying on rain water which they collected in drums to keep the slaughter house running.

Our businesses are suffering and we have no idea how long the water problem will persist. It needs to be urgently fixed for we cannot rely on rain water for our operations forever, said Mdoe.

Also affected by the shortage were institutions, including Kwale Women’s GK Prison, health facilities and schools amidst fears of an outbreak of water-borne diseases because of consumption of water from contaminated sources.

Source: Kenya News Agency