City loses Sh3.7bn to leaking water pipes, cartels and vandals

Ndakaini Dam in Gatanga
Ndakaini Dam in Gatanga

City Hall blames old, leaking and broken water pipes for torrents of lost water and revenue.

Also to blame are vandalism, cartels and illegal connections.

Nairobi is losing Sh3.7 billion per year as a result of non-revenue water — equivalent to 40 per cent of the total water supply

The worn-out pipes of poor quality have been causing underground leakage, resulting in inadequate water supply to estates.

“Most pipes in Nairobi were laid during the colonial period and are still the pipes we have today. So you can imagine their state today,” Water services director Mario Kainga told the Star on Tuesday in an interview.

These materials wear out and require regular replacement, he said.

Non-revenue water is water that is produced but ‘lost’ through leakage or theft before it reaches the customer.

The Water and Sanitation Bill, 2018, says non-revenue water is caused by visible and underground leakages, poor quality pipes and dilapidated infrastructure.

Poor commercial practices and weak management of water service utilities have also been blamed for water loss.

Kainga said, “The loss of Sh3.7 billion per year is huge, causing constraints in water supply even as we face water rationing,.”

Last August, the Water Services Regulatory Board (Wasreb) report revealed that Kenya loses more than Sh8 billion annually through leaking pipes. In April, an audit revealed Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company had lost more than Sh1 billion to illegal water connections and leakages in 2016-17.

Auditor General Edward Ouko reported that out of 181,363,932 cubic metres the firm produced during the year, only 112,787,621 cubic metres or 62 per cent, was billed to customers, earning the firm Sh5.1 billion.The remaining 38 per cent was non-revenue water.

The water wasted is above the allowable loss of 25 per cent, according to Water Services Regulatory Board guidelines. “The excess non-revenue water of 13 per cent may have resulted in the loss of revenue estimated at Sh1,044,873, 270,” the report read.

Cartels running water points — especially in slums — and old pipes that frequently burst, have also been blamed for the shortage


City Hall says the water required daily is 700,000 cubic metres against actual supply of 525,600 cubic metres. As a result, the county has been rationing water and and many estates get water on selected days of the week.

Residents of Lang’ata, Umoja, South B estates are facing severe shortages. Water levels in reservoirs have also dropped.

However, county hospitals, learning institutions, CBD and slum areas get a 24-hour water supply. “Even when Ndakaini Dam is full capacity, there is still going to be a deficit because the demand has surpassed the supply,” Kainga said.

He added, “Population is increasing resulting in an influx of businesses that also need water.”

He explained that cartels exploit the deficit and vandalise pipes, worseing the shortage.As a result, the county has formed a team working with Nairobi Water to ensure the cartel network is dismantled.

City Hall is optimistic that completion of the Northern Collector Tunnel will bring an additional 140,000 cubic metres daily to Nairobi.

The tunnel is expected to be complete by the end of this year. The project has three components, including an 11.8km tunnel, raw and treated water pipelines and water treatment plants. It will also construct independent community water supplies along the Northern Collector Tunnel in Murang’a. It will build 56km of sewers and 40km of sewer reticulation network in various parts of the city, including Kahawa, Mathare, Riruta, Githurai 44, Githurai 45, Upperhill, Kileleshwa, Kangundo Road and Lang’ata.

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