The government has finally given water services firms water treatment chemicals. Covid-19 cause closure of businesses and educational centres thus financially pressing the firms. In addition, a government’s order stops the firms from demanding payment from customers with unpaid bills. These free chemicals will lessen their financial burden.
The government has handed over a total of one million kilogrammes of water treatment chemicals to 74 water services firms. The four chemicals are – powder chlorine, alum, soda ash and poly-aluminium chloride.
The highest quantity of the chemicals is soda ash (sodium carbonate), which is 600,000 kilogrammes. Chlorine and alum (aluminium sulphate) were in equal amounts, 150,000 kilogrammes. Then there were 180,000 kilogrammes of poly-aluminium chloride.
This is a grant from the government. This means the firms will not pay for the chemicals.
On 16 September, Mrs Sicily Kariuki, minister, Water, Sanitation and Irrigation, saw off lorries carrying the chemicals in Nairobi.
Mrs Kariuki said that the chemicals were part of the government’s act to prevent spread of Covid-19. The government is helping supply of clean and adequate water as well as hand wash stations in towns, markets, police stations and hospitals.
She said that revenues for water services firms had fallen by 30 per cent since March following closure of businesses and education centres because of Covid-19. Also, some customers had stopped paying for their water.
“The water service providers therefore need support if they are to continue offering services to Kenyans during this difficult period,” the minister said.
How did the government buy the chemicals?
Water Sector Trust Fund (WaterFund) bought the chemicals for the Water, Sanitation and Irrigation ministry. WaterFund is the ministry’s firm whose duty is to give grants to counties to help them grow and manage water services in rural and urban areas.
WaterFund advertised the tender for supply of the four water treatment chemicals on 17 July. It closed on 3 August.
What else is the ministry doing?
Mrs Kariuki said that the government had used Sh1.62 billion to increase water supply to communities without water. Part of the money was used to drill 193 boreholes in the areas especially informal settlements.
“These boreholes have increased water to the target areas by 1,500 cubic meters [1.5 million litres] per day benefiting 600,000 people,” the minister said.