By Emmanuel Masha
Kenya Power has disconnected electricity supply at the Hola Water Supply, forcing Hola Town residents to rely on raw water from the crocodile-infested River Tana.
The power distributor disconnected supply last Friday over a Sh. 255, 000 electricity bill owed by the Tana River County Government through the Tana Water and Sanitation Company (TAWASCO).
Kenya Power’s County Business Manager, Joseph Ndegwa told reporters that the county government had an electricity bill of Sh.655, 000 but settled Sh.400, 000 last week.
“We however had to disconnect supply at the pumping station because the company and the county government have not made a commitment on when they intend to settle the outstanding bill.
The Director of Finance at the Tana River County Government, Mr. Francis Ngigi, conceded that the water company owed the Kenya Power Company Sh. 255, 000 but did not say when the debt would be settled.
“We paid Sh.400, 000 last week with the hope that the power company would give us more time to settle the remaining amount,” Mr. Ngigi told reporters on phone.
Residents have been forced to fetch raw water, a situation that could lead to outbreaks of water borne diseases as well as crocodile attacks, which are common in the area.
The residents have called on the county government to urgently settle the debt for water supply to be restored in Hola town and its environs, to reduce their suffering.
Michael Waticha, a resident of Hola town, and who has resorted to water vending, said one 20-litre container of the untreated water was being sold at as much as Sh.30.
“It is dangerous because the water is not treated and the power company has not supplied residents with water purifying chemicals alam (aluminium sulphate),” he said.
The chairman of the Tana River County Community Chairpersons Association (TRiCCCA), Mr. Frankheart Ddaiddo also called on the county government to urgently address the problem.
“It is a shame that the county government is unable to settle so little a debt,” he said, adding, “The county administration should move fast to avert a health crisis,” he said.
A spot check by the Kenya News Agency on Monday revealed that hundreds of residents were flocking to the river to fetch water.
Water trucks recently launched to supply relief water to drought-stricken residents in the hinterland were spotted pumping water into tank direct from the river.
Water vendors using carts, motorcycles and motor vehicles were also seen fetching water direct from the open river.
Hola town is the Headquarters of Tana River County, and the lack of water has affected senior officials, including the governor and his entire government, as well county commissioner and national government departmental heads among others.