AS we celebrate the 48th Independence anniversay, it is important to recognise the achievements recorded in the water sector so far.
In the early 1990s, the Government, through the local authorities in the country decided to run the water generation and supply through public companies whose sole purpose was to run the utilities as commercial entities.
In 1988, Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company (LWSC) was created and only became operational in 1990 after finalising with all the legal obligations.
LWSC public relations officer Topsy Sikainda said at that time, Lusaka had a population of 800 compared to the current population of 2.2 million and that water and sanitation was limited to planned settlement areas like Woodlands, Kabulonga and others.
Mr Sikalinda said water supply and sanitation in Zambia was characterised by wide discrepancies in access to an improved water source between urban and rural areas.
He said in peri-urban areas, access has been substantially expanded through the construction of water kiosks, while major reforms have been carried out since 1989 with a focus on urban areas which culminated into the creation of 11 regional commercial utilities to replace fragmented service provision by local governments in the country.
Mr Sikalinda said water kiosks which were first introduced in Zambia in 2006, and operated by private individuals who have signed an agreement with LWSC and Lusaka City Council were solving the challenge of both supply of clean water and access.
He said before the end of this month, LWSC was going to launch a water treatment project in Kafue called Kaseba Treatment Plant which would benefit more than 1,000 Kafue residents which he said was a milestone achievement.
The kiosk operators buy piped water in bulk and sell it at a slightly higher regulated price of about one American Cents per 20 litres to users who carry the water in containers to their homes.
The kiosk operators supplement their income by selling various other items of daily life.
There were about 170 water kiosks in Lusaka Province by 2008, providing water to 200,000 people.
Another 100 kiosks were expected to be added in 2009 according to the National Water and Sanitation Council (NWASCO).
Most water and sewerage companies are faced with the challenge of capital injection to improve the capacity of water supply.
LWSC needs US$3million to meet the demand caused by the growing number of both commercial and household customers in Lusaka Province.
Presently, the total requirement of water in the province stands at more than 370,000 cubic metres of processed water per day.
The water company is only able to supply about 258,000 cubic metres of water per day.
LWSC managing director George Ndongwe said his company needed to invest about K17 trillion to upgrade the old equipment at the plant in Kafue and other pumping stations, saying this would reduce the demand almost completely and that 96 per cent of all the clients would access water.
Mr Ndongwe said LWSC had formulated a master plan to raise the money to finance the projects aiming at increasing the capacity of supply of water and sewerage.
He said the plan had helped the water and sewerage company acquire a compact agreement with the Millennium Challenge agreement worth $335 million which is equivalent to K1.8 trillion.
“Over the past 10 years, the demand for water and sewer services had increased tremendously due to the expansion of compounds and industries, especially Lusaka,” Mr Ndongwe said.
Mr Ndongwe said the agreement would help minimise the burden of meeting the demand of water in the province.
He added that as a stop-gap measure, the company had embarked on drilling boreholes, especially in the city of Lusaka to reduce the demand of water in the city.
“We started drilling boreholes in the province, but we are facing the challenge of land issues as most of it which should be explored for borehole drilling is occupied,” he said.
Mr Ndongwe said not all the land can be used to drill boreholes, saying most of the underground water was contaminated by pit latrines.
He, however, indicated that last year, 10 boreholes were sunk and that by the end of the year more than over 16 boreholes would be sunk in Lusaka alone, saying it would lead to most of the areas which faced water shortages having water for 24 hours.
Mr Ndongwe also added that the water company faced many challenges which were contributing to the low supply of water to the customers.
He pointed out vandalism to water and sewer pipes, power cuts due to load shedding and encroachment of the company’s major installations as some of the challenges facing the company in delivering a better service to the customers.
Mr Ndongwe said currently his company was working with Zesco so that when it shuts down for routine maintenance, they also shut down so that the inconvenience caused by the power outage of Zesco and LWSC non-functional plants was minimised.
“We are working with Zesco, especially with the issue of shutting down for routine maintenance so that the shortages of water supply is minimised unlike if we shut down at different days and times. This is helping much as the company is looking forward to finding lasting solutions to the challenges,” he said.
And LWSC has said 40 per cent of the expected collected revenue every year is lost through pipe leakages, illegal connections and use of water every year.
This has reduced the revenue levels of the water compared to the investment ratios.
LWSC acting commercial director Fearless Hatontola said LWSC lost 40 per cent of revenue due to leakages in the water pipes and theft of water through illegal connections.
Ms Hatontola said her company was aiming at reducing the loss of revenue to 30 per cent by putting up measures which would reduce the losses.
She said among the measures the company was putting in place was to repair and replace old pipes so that leakages were minimised.
“We have been losing a lot of revenue through various ways, that is why recently you have seen LWSC repairing broken pipes and we are working with the Lusaka City Council to curb illegal connections to our line,” Ms Hatontola said.
She added that LWSC was reviewing the payment period from the current 14 days to a two-day notice.
Ms Hatontola said the company faced a challenge of low collection on the water and sewage services the company provided to the Lusaka Province residents.
Source Article from http://allafrica.com/stories/201210260544.html
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