Water scarcity bites amidst hiking water tariffs in Kigali

On 6 mai 2022 at 12:41

Residents from different parts of Kigali City are crying foul wondering how they will get along amidst persistent water shortage and hiking tariffs.

It has been almost two weeks since Kigali City dwellers and its neighborhoods struggled to access water supplied by the Water and Sanitation Corporation Ltd (WASAC), a public institution mandated to supply safe water across the country.

The issue of water shortage would irk residents in the past but didn’t last longer. However, the issue worsened since 30th April 2022 where water scarcity has been reported in different parts of Kigali.

It is said that some residents are taking advantage of the shortage and sell a 20-liter jerrycan of water at a cost between Rwf300 and Rwf1500 depending on the location.

Some residents who spoke to IGIHE, have expressed frustration over the issue which is putting activities on a standstill and leaving their pockets drained over the high cost of water.

Desire Nshimiyimana residing in Rugenge Cell of Muhima Sector in Nyarugenge District has disclosed that he has spent more than two weeks without water. To cope with the situation, Nshimiyimana uses water from wetlands which costs him Rwf1000 per jerrycan.

“We are hit hard by water scarcity. We are used to buying water from wetlands at the former premises of ULK [Kigali Independent University]. The porters charge us Rwf1000 and the amount goes higher depending on ordered jerrycans,” he explained.

“The porter leaves at 7:00 a.m. and returns at 11:00a.m. This can help you to understand how it affects other activities yet the water is not clean to be used to all household stuffs,” added Nshimiyimana.

Chantal Umutesi, a resident of Remera has revealed that it is almost a week without access to water where they pay cyclists between Rwf500 and Rwf1000 to bring a jerrycan of water.

“We were blessed with the rain on Sunday and used fetched water but reservoirs are now drained. We are currently obliged to pay cyclists to bring water depending on how you negotiate them,” he said.

“Life is hard. The current market prices are high but lacking water after getting foods, worsens the situation. We don’t deserve to lead such life considering Rwanda’s progress,” she said.

Another resident from Gatsata Sector whom we met fetching dirty water form River Nyabugogo has revealed that he cannot afford Rwf300 to buy a jerrycan.

“We have no water in this area. A jerrycan is currently sold at Rwf300. We take advantage of living nearby Nyabugogo to use its water in other domestic works and buy clean water for drinking and cooking purposes,” he explained.

Phenias Manizabayo, a resident of Gisozi has also expressed frustration over water scarcity and existing hiked market prices.

“I miss water. Life has become tougher. Life is usually hard in Kigali. The additional cost of water is worsening the situation. We need government’s intervention,” he said.

Apart from these individuals, many social media users have also complained about the persistent issue and requested WASAC to solve it.

Some social media users who reacted to a post by IGIHE regarding water scarcity have also called for quick action to address the issue.

“When many of us in Kigali City go to pray, we ask God to get WASAC management resign but we have not yet got the feedback. However, we believe that God responds in the right time. They should be standby. How come to spend two weeks without water in Kigali,” wondered a social media user identified as Kavukire.

Ntigurirwa Fabien Miracle has also said “We are about to flee because a jerrycan is sold at Rwf1500 in Gisozi.”

Another social media user identified as Ruzindana serge said that they are using JIBU water noting that ‘it is less expensive than the cost of sending a porter to bring water’.

Other Facebook users revealed that they are fed up with buying a jerrycan at Rwf1000.

What happened ?

Even though water scarcity persisted for two weeks, the issue particularly worsened since Saturday over damaged water distribution pipes from Nzove Water Treatment Plant.

The plant supplies water to different parts including Runda, Rugalika, Gihogwe, Kabuye, Nyarutarama, Kibagabaga, Kinyinya, Bumbogo, Rukiri-Gishushu-Remera, Nyakabanda, Gisozi, Kamatamu, Meredien, Faisal, Kanserege, Kimihurura, Rugando, Gacuriro, Kagugu, Rwankuba, Kami and Gasanze.

Rutagungira Methode, the director of urban water and sanitation services at WASAC has said that the issue of water scarcity resulted from recent floods which washed away the soil holding water pipes tight. As a result, he explained, the issue left pipes broken hence cutting the supply.

Rutagungira revealed that renovations of destroyed water pipes are underway that ‘residents will have access to water soon’.

“We are reconnecting broken pipes and hope water will be available soon,” he said.

On the issue of water shortage in Muhima Sector for two weeks, Rutagungira explained that it had resulted from damaged water pipes.

It is not the first time the issue happens in Kigali which prompts the general public to demand concerned authorities to seek a durable solution.

Rutagungira has explained that there is a plan to build more water treatment plants to completely address the issue of water scarcity.

"Kigali City would have completely lacked water hadn’t been the supply of Kanzenze plant. We have started a plan to expand plants to different parts so that we can have an alternative in case there is a defect on one side," he noted.

"We want to build more plants and expect to have one of them completed by 2026 in Eastern Province so that Kigali City can be supplied with water from different corners," added Rutagungira.

WASAC has comforted residents from Kigali and its neighbourhoods (by press time) that they will start getting water again in no more than 24 hours.

Residents have been fetching dirty marshland water.