The Coast Water Services Board(CWSB) has unearthed a major scandal involving senior government officials , powerful politicians and business people who are using illegal connections to siphon water worth millions of shillings in Voi, Taita- Taveta County .
The scandal which was exposed during a high powered tour of the area by CWSB officials led by chairman Granton Samboja includes a tourism facility at Ndara where the management has connected water into a waterhole where wildlife troop to quench their thirst without paying bills.
A former minister and a regional commissioner have also being connected to the main Mzima pipeline without the CWSB metres being installed.
Caught in the mix is a powerful Somali rancher who has been connected to a 6 inch pipe which is unmetred resulting to huge revenue loss.
“The illegal connections have resulted to over 45 per cent water loss which translates to
to Sh 5m monthly loss to Coast Water Services Board. This cannot be allowed to continue as we have now launched Operation Okoa Maji Pwani”, said Samboja when he led a team of technical staff to dismantle all the connections.
Samboja said investigations would be conducted to establish whether employees from the CWSB and Taita-Taveta Water and Sewarage Company(Tavevo) were involved.
“A scandal of this magnitude can not take place without the full knowledge of CWSB and Tavevo staff and I am assuring you that soon heads are going to roll,” warned Samboja.
He pointed out that due to these anomalies deserving consumers were being charged for estimated water bills while rich and influential people enjoyed the commodity free of charge.
He at the same time revealed that the Tavevo water bill to Coast water had been reviewed downwards from Sh 121m to 65m after it was discovered that some of the connections by CWSB has faulty metres.
“We are still insisting that Tavevo pays a monthly amount of Sh 3m till the bill is settled. We cannot relent on this as Coast Water has a lot of financial constraints that have to be addressed” said Samboja.
Among these included donor loans owed to the World Bank amounting to Sh 595m as well as paying staff salaries.
The official said that CWSB was working on both short and long term plans to address water shortage problems at the Coast.
These will include upgrading of the existing Mzima supply pipeline and adjoining arteries.
“Chief among these will be the setting of a second Mzima pipeline which will mainly address water shortage problems in Taita-Taveta County while the rest will be supplied to Mombasa. This is estimated to cost about Sh 36 billion and will take 4 years to complete,” said Samboja.
He pointed out that this would be the second largest water project for Coast since the old Mzima pipeline was laid in 1953.
“The second Mzima pipeline will be a landmark project for Coast region as it will boost the current supply which is inadequate to serve the region due to rapid rise in population,” said Samboja.
He lamented that a lot of water from Mzima was not being tapped to serve Coast people largely due to lack of the requisite infrastructure.
“Out of the daily Mzima output of 100,000 liters per day only 40,000 litres is being channeled through the current Mzima pipeline. This is a great loss which we have to address,” said Samboja.
Samboja who also toured the Njoro Kubwa springs in Taveta sub-county said CWSB would spend Sh2.1 billion to supply water from Taveta to Maktau in Mwatate sub-county.
A further Sh 100m would be used to upgrade the existing Lumi water project in Taveta, he revealed. The funding for this project would come from World Bank.
Other projects to address water issues in the short term included Sh 30m to rehabilitate Kishenyi Dam and Sh 30m to supply water to Kishushe in Wundanyi sub-county.