By Kaburu Mugambi
Importance of handwashing with soap remains a top priority as Covid-19 pandemic continues. Water companies have taken a number of actions to help county and national governments to prevent the virus. The companies are giving handwashing and hand hygiene supplies. They are increasing water delivery to informal settlements in their regions.
Meru County Urban Water and Sanitation Services Corporation
Chief Executive Officer Joseph Mberia said the company had an emergency funding. The company has used the money to buy and put 100 water tanks for public handwashing. Handwashing water tanks with soap are placed at main locations in the county. “We have a pickup that goes round refilling water in the tanks,” Mr Mberia told Water Tower. “Providing handwashing points in urban areas is part of our corporate social responsibility.”
Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company
It has taken a number of actions to give adequate water in Nairobi. The company has 10 water tankers to distribute free water for handwashing to informal settlements (Kibera, Mukuru and Mathare). In addition, it is drilling 20 boreholes in Kibera, Mukuru, Mathare, Gatina, Mihango, Kangemi, Riruta/Satellite, Utawala, Ruai Kayole and Matopeni.
Managing Director Nahason Muguna said that all projects have begun. “The hygiene projects are paid for by the national government and from our own savings,” he said.
Chairman Beryl Lilian Okumu Odinga said the company would be monitoring work of its water tankers. “The boreholes shall also be monitored in order to ensure that the public are accessing clean and safe water,” she said.
Nairobi City Water has reorganised water distribution. High demand areas such as Mukuru and Mathare and other informal settlements will start getting water five days a week. Other high population density areas will receive water twice a week.
Working with Athi Water Works Development Agency, the company is installing over 800 free handwashing points in Nairobi county. It has promised handwashing facilities will available in all public toilets and police stations.
Nyahururu Water and Sanitation Company
Managing Director Peter Mwangi said the company had given 15 water tanks of 1,500 litres each. It has done this in partnership with Central Rift Valley Water Works Development Agency. It has put tanks in Rumuruti GK Prison, Rumuruti main matatu terminus, outside Nyahuwasco main office and Nyahururu Police Station. Other areas are main Nyahururu bus terminus and Nyahururu main market as well as Oljabet, Muthengera and Karuga shopping centres. Manguo, Maina and Kang’a Nderitu estates and Mairo Inya matatu terminus have received water tanks.
Besides putting handwashing water tanks, the company is using its water bowser (tanker) to supply water to other facilities. These are Ndindika Health Centre in Kinamba town and communities in Mathenge and Ngaremare areas in Rumuruti. It is refilling all water tanks.
Mr Mwangi said consumers in Nyahururu and Rumuruti towns and Igwamiti get water daily. But because Marmanet rural areas are vast, majority of customers still get water daily. The remaining a quarter of customers gets water on rotation. At least two days a week.
Nyeri Water and Sanitation Company
The company is providing handwashing facilities as well as sanitisers to its employees and customers visiting its offices. It has put free handwashing points at all matatu terminus, public parks and health facilities in Nyeri Central Sub-County.
Nyeri Water has an online campaign to educate customers on prevention of Covid-19. The company creates visual images with messages on the virus. The messages are put on the company’s website and on its social accounts.
The 34 handwashing points for public use are in selected areas in Nyeri Central Sub-County. Managing Director Peter Gichaaga said water in handwashing points is safe for drinking. “The cost of construction and water used will be catered for by the corporate social responsibility account of the company,” he said.
Ruiru-Juja Water and Sewerage Company
It has installed 27 handwashing points. The company refills the handwashing tanks daily. Managing Director Simon Mwangi said five handwashing points have been put in urban centres. These are Juja, Ruiru, Githurai 45, Progressive and Kenyatta road.
“We are trying to ensure all areas have water supply,” he told Water Tower.
Some water companies are extending water supply to informal settlements. But Mr Mwangi said it is only Gitambaya area, which was initially seen as an informal settlement. “Gitambaya has ceased to be an informal settlement,” he said. “Today it is an area of tall buildings.”
Reducing number of customers going to offices
The government advised restricted access to public offices and places. Ruiru-Juja Water and Sewerage Company is encouraging customers to use alternative telephone numbers for complaints.
Managing Director Simon Mwangi said these numbers were in addition to existing numbers. “We have minimised customers coming to our offices by opening online platform for water billing and complaints,” said Mr Mwangi.
Nyahururu Water and Sanitation Company has given customers a hotline telephone number (0728348312) and an SMS (21292). This is to reduce need for customers going to the offices.
“Our customer service team are available to handle all enquiries as need be,” said Managing Director Peter Mwangi. The company uses a billing system that settles M-Pesa and bank payments. The customer does not need to come to the office for any payment related issues, Mr Mwangi said.