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Water bills in Nairobi to double from March

From March 2015, Nairobi residents will see their water bills nearly double, the first increase in the commodity’s pricing in six years.

This is after the Water Services Regulatory Board (Wasreb) in November gave the Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company (NCWSC) the green light to increase rates for the first time since 2009.

“Since 2009, input costs such as electricity, fuel, mechanical fittings and even personnel costs have all increased by over double,” Nairobi Water managing director Phillip Gichuki said.

REVISE TARIFF

“However, during this period we have never revised our rates, putting severe strains on our operations including expansion and repairs. This is why we had to revise the tariff upwards.”

Mr Gichuki, for instance, noted that in 2009, their monthly electricity bill was Sh15 million but this had since risen to Sh35 million — a cost increase the firm has borne over the years.

Beginning March, the average consumer who uses about 20 cubic meters of the resource every month, will see their bills increase by 92.8 per cent to Sh1,674 up from the current Sh868.

Low- income earners who consume six cubic meters of water and below will see their monthly bills go up from the current Sh187.10 to a flat rate of Sh204 — a nine per cent increment.

COMMUNAL CHARGE

Wasreb also allowed the water firm to introduce a communal charge for consumers who live in flats and gated communities where these estates will start being billed via a single meter only.

The latest tariff adjustment will force normal consumers as well as big industries to dig deeper into their pockets, a painful reality coming at a time when the cost of living has jumped to unprecedented levels.

High inflation rates has especially caused the cost of food to increase, forcing households to tighten their budget strings.

A higher water bill burden is, therefore, the last thing consumers need at the moment. Mr Gichuki is, however, appealing to consumers that the increase is good and that in coming years, they will feel the impact of the extra funds Nairobi Water will be collecting.

“The higher revenues will enable us to install sewerage systems in areas such as Kahawa West, Kasarani and Mihango offering residents of these areas the much needed service,” said Mr Gichuki.

“At the moment, demand for water in Nairobi stands at 720,000 cubic meters of water a day while we supply 560,000 cubic meters. This deficit can only be reduced or completely wiped out by investing in the system.”

WATER SUPPLIERS

The utility firm boss claims that the consumers who participated in a month-long public forum which ended on Saturday largely supported the tariff revision except bulk water suppliers who took issue with it.

One of the issues that consumers and the regulator have had with the water firm is that they should inject more energy and resources into ensuring that supply of water is improved.

The regulator has been even more adamant with the fact that Nairobi Water’s monthly revenues of Sh530 million account for just 67 per cent of what is should be collecting.

Wasreb also wants the water firm to rein in defaulting clients, curb illegal connections in informal settlements and cut its personnel to operations costs ratio from 54 per cent to 30 per cent over the next three years.