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Kajiado's coronavirus preparedness questioned in face of water scarcity

Thursday March 19 2020

Water vendor

Water vendor. Fresh water is a rare commodity in Kitengela. FILE PHOTO | NATION 

STANLEY NGOTHO
By STANLEY NGOTHO
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Residents of Kitengela area have chided the Kajiado County government over shortage of running water in the entire town and its environs despite the Covid-19 scare.

Shortage of running water in the town remains the biggest setback in the fight against the spread of the disease despite the devolved unit setting up an isolation centre at Kitengela Sub-County Hospital.

Fresh water remains a rare commodity in the populous dusty town with salty water sold at exorbitant prices remaining the only option.

The Sh3 per 20 litre container of fresh water promised by the national government in public water kiosks is seemingly a pipe dream. Only a few water vendors have access and end up hawking the commodity at exorbitant prices.

Now, residents are questioning the county government’s preparedness to curb the spread of coronavirus when they are grappling with a water shortage.

“Water scarcity continues to take a toll on Kitengela residents. We have been advised to wash hands several times to mitigate coronavirus spread but we cannot afford the exorbitant prices charged by water vendors,” said Patrick Mwangi, a resident.

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Locals are pleading with the devolved unit to supply water to residents at subsidised rates or for free.

“The water kiosks can hardly serve the growing population in Kitengela town. This is the time the county government ought to mind its people,” said Ms Nancy Mutuku, a trader.

A spot check on the public water kiosks returned a picture of untold pain and anguish among residents as they queue for the normally rationed water.

However, Water CEC Michael Semera said the county government has reached out to Nairobi Water Company to stop rationing and ensure steady supply in kiosks.

DN Briefs text: “We are still negotiating with EPZ to relinquish the major water line to the county government so that we can be able to tap more water from Nairobi Water Company and in return supply enough water to our people without a hitch,” Mr Semera said.

Last year, the Ministry of Water and Sanitation banned all private water selling companies in Kitengela and Athi River.

According to a Ministry of Water survey, Kitengela town has a population of 500,000 people requiring 30,000 cubic metres of water daily.

Private boreholes cater for only 5,000 cubic meters daily with water vendors enjoying the 25,000 cubic metres deficit.