DROUGHT BLAMED

Water shortage hits Manda airport, stalls operations

Both staff and passenger toilets at the airport have been closed down

In Summary

•The shortage is said to have been occasioned by a reduced water supply from the Lamu Water and Sewerage Company (LAWASCO) and the prolonged drought season.

•Travellers have expressed frustrations at not being able to use toilets whenever they need to at the airport.

An acute water shortage is threatening to destabilise activities at the Manda airport in Lamu county.

The shortage has affected operations in the airport and is threatening to stall major activities according to staff members.

It is said to have been occasioned by a reduced water supply from the Lamu Water and Sewerage Company (Lawasco) and the prolonged drought season.

The draught season has, in turn, caused reduced water levels in water reservoirs in the region since January this year.

Both staff and passenger toilets at the airport have been closed down due to water shortage.

Travellers have expressed frustrations at not being able to use toilets whenever they need to.

“I’m heading to Mombasa for treatment and I have a running stomach and they tell me the toilets are not functional because there is no water. How can this happen in an airport? ”Mariam Abdullahi posed.

Muhashiam Muhsin, a frequent traveller urged the Kenya Airports Authority-(KAA) to look into the frequent water shortages at the airport and find a permanent solution.

“It is not the first time this is happening. In the 10 plus years that I have been using this airport, barely a month goes by before there is a water shortage among other issues,” he said.

Muhsin said KAA needs to look into the management of the Manda airport very keenly because that happenings are shameful.

It was established that casual labourers and staff at the airport are being forced to ferry jerricans of water daily using boats all the way from the Lamu island water reservoirs in Shella area which is over 10 kilometres away from the airport.

A staff member who spoke on condition of anonymity revealed they are forced to wake up at 3.30 am and head to Shella where they fill hundreds of jerricans with water before heading back to the airport on a boat.

“It’s a tiresome job and it's also not part of our job description but they make us do it. We have to get into the wells which might get us killed someday,” they said.

When contacted, the KAA Coast regional manager Peter Wafula admitted that the airport faced intermittent water shortages from time to time but it was not much of a challenge.

He said the problem is largely compounded by Lawasco which is in charge of water supply to the airport.

Wafula also said the drought is partly to blame.

“It’s not always that the airport is facing water shortage. It’s only during certain days when the supply from Lawasco is low. That’s when we ferry water physically from the Shella wells to the airport, especially when we are doing routine tests for our machines at the airport‚” he said.

Wafula said they can’t be doing the tests for machines using freshwater as they are sharing the same water supply with the Kenya Red Cross and the Manda community.

“I hope Lawasco will fully address the water rationing once the drought season is over,” he said.

Lawasco MD Kimani Wainaina admitted the shortage and said apart from the airport, other parts of Lamu had also been affected.

He said the situation has been brought about by the drying up of several dunes at Lamu island’s main reservoirs in Shella.

Wainaina said that has reduced water production and supply across Lamu.

“Fluctuation in electricity that has been witnessed in recent days is also to blame. I, however, urge the KAA to revise and replace its supply line to the airport as it was damaged years back,” he said.

 

Edited by Kiilu Damaris