Government considers plan to split WASAC into two companies

On 14 July 2021 at 11:33

The Minister of Infrastructure, Amb Claver Gatete has said that the Government is considering plans to split Water and Sanitation Corporation (WASAC) into two companies to enhance efficient management.

He made the revelation on Tuesday 13th July 2021 appearing before the Lower House of the parliament to respond to queries related to the performance of WASAC and Rwanda Energy Group (REG).

WASAC has been at different times faulted for lacking internal revenue control and poor funds management among others since 2014. To date, the institution is reported to have failed to fully respect all recommendations by the Auditor General.

In November 2020, lawmakers singled out WASAC for what some referred to as abysmal performance over the previous five financial years (from 2014/15-2018/19), which earned it a disclaimer audit opinion from the Office of the Auditor General of State Finances.

A disclaimer of opinion is issued when an auditor is unable to complete the audit report due to the absence of financial records or insufficient cooperation from management of the concerned body.

The Auditor General’s report indicates that WASAC lost Rwf 2.7 billion in 2019 and Rwf9.4 billion in 2020.

Parliamentarians also expressed concerns over underperforming water treatment plants resulting into water scarcity.

These include Nzove I, Nzove II and Nzove III. Each of the three plants was expected to produce 40 cubic meters per day but operate at 41% and 49% capacity.

Minister Gatete explained that persistent problems at WASAC prompted the Government to commission a team of auditors to assess the situation and make recommendations.

He revealed that the institution has two departments; one focusing on development projects and another with a mandate of collecting revenue from water sales.

Gatete said the commercial department should be capacitated enough to make financial records abiding by international norms.

Failure to streamline funds management has been a serious concern since the institution was created out of the former Energy Water and Sanitation Authority (EWSA) split into two companies.

Minister Gatete revealed that the issue is being assessed where the optimal choice might be to split WASAC into two institutions; one for management of development projects and another commercial branch collecting revenue from sales of water as recommended by the team of auditors.

“The fact that it is the only institution responsible for water distribution across the country doesn’t sound well. We have to make possible effort to enhance its operations,” he said.

Minister Gatete further stated that non-integrated funds management systems are among other reasons triggering inefficiency.

“Ineffective performance cannot be addressed if such standalone systems are not integrated. This is what we are trying to do at the moment. We will have integrated all systems by December,” he said.

Minister Gatete told parliamentarians the country is considering the replacement of old water pipelines or small ones and old meters as well to avoid losses emerging from unbilled water and metering inaccuracies.

He assured that there is plan to replace water distribution networks with standard equipment along 568 kilometers in Kigali city and 1112 in secondary cities to be completed by the end of December 2021.

For the past two years, WASAC has been operating without Board Committee, which pointed out to be among other reasons triggering ineffective performance and funds mismanagement.

Minister Gatete declined to give much detail about the issue but assured that the Government will appoint the committee in the near future.