Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The 145th reminder.... to the PERSON/S CONCERNED - the WAB workshop

Yesterday, some of us attended a very interesting workshop by the Water Appeal Board (WAB) where we learned of many developments in the water sector and it's 'service' delivery and what aggrieved parties can resort to, to settle any problems.

The person conducting the introductions and even gave a talk, a Mr. Nyaoro from the Ministry of Water and Irrigation, was asked by me what the Ministry was doing about these 'reminders' which till yesterday had reached 144 in number. His reaction was very telling in the sense that it reflected the attitude of most of these service providers. They are totally unrepentant and are still under the mistaken impression that they are God's gift to the Wananchi! They might have changed several names in the past decades, but, the same old and recycled mentality continues to exist who sing the same old songs and don't want to entertain a different thought process/es. He responded by trying to belittle me in front of a room full of attendees, some of whom were very happy to have me put down. Yet, he never answered my question! Considering I don't have his email address, but, send my emails to the Permanent Secretary's, and they bounce everytime, I wonder, how he keeps himself so up to date regarding my 144 reminders...?! Does somebody in the many water bodies, fwd them to him? And what are they really doing about the many issues raised in those reminders.

Another point, why should it upset him so much that I send my emails to the whole wide world? I tried telling him the reason for doing this, yesterday, to defend myself, but, he wouldn't give me the opportunity. So, now, I will do so.....

For his information, my misadventures with the water delivery people did not start in the 21st Century, but, I've been given a runaround by whoever has been in charge of delivery since the mid-1970's! Hence, I know exactly what some of these people are made of. Over the years or more like decades, the water situation has got persistently worse and the people in charge of delivery have also been extremely insolent. I've been writing letters to the water 'officialdom' since then, when this Mr. Nyaoro was probably still in school, most likely Primary.

Therefore, when over the years, my letters were either ignored or got one line replies asking for my account number and nothing further done to rectify the situation, it was with great relief when the Internet arrived in this country. Even then, I continued writing and trying to see them to solve our worsening problem, but, nothing positive happened.

And that is why, I now write to the 'whole world' as he thinks, to publicize our plight, especially in Coast Province. Last year, I even wrote a petition (see below), where I've suggested a solution with the environment in mind, but, after having collected over 900 signatures over a period of a month and sending these certified copies to all the people concerned (see attached picture), there has been no response nor even an acknowledgment from this insolent sector. They work (if they really, do), in a fog!

Today, is one of the magical days when the water kiosks and some people are supposed to get water, but, it seems (the mkokoteni guy told me this), that there is no water even there...., yet. I had told the guy who regularly brings me water to do so this morning, but, he says that there isn't any. Why? This, to me, would translate to - the water situation is getting much worse rather than better. NB: The water guy has just arrived with the water which means that the water kiosk got it late.

Another point. During the launch of the CRCs in Mombasa and Nairobi, these same people from the Coast Water (dis)Services Board (they should change their name, pronto!), had been telling us that over a period of 3 years, they would be laying new pipes from Mzima Springs, etc., directly to the Island of Mombasa, but, yesterday, what Mr. Nyaoro and Mr. Kai from the CWSB, were saying was that they were trying to achieve a better service delivery by 2015! They seem to contradict each other. Later, when I pointed this fact out to Mr. Kai, he refused to admit that he had ever mentioned 3 years at the CRC launch!!! If they carry on like this, I don't hope to see water coming through our pipes in my lifetime, at least!

Here is what I said in the Petition last year. It's now a year and a half.



April 2006

Calling All Mombasa Residents!

RE: Non-availability of Water

For many YEARS now, the long suffering residents and other members of the public in and around Mombasa, have been continuously forced to put up with the most appalling ‘services’ to their Water Supply. First, from the NWCPC and now from the Mombasa Water and Sewerage Company.

Their plight, has been drawn to the attention of the authorities in Mombasa and Nairobi many, many times over the years, by one Razia Mohamedali (Miss), and a few others, but instead of improving their services, the authorities and suppliers charged with this duty, have steadily allowed the supply of water to deteriorate to an almost catastrophic state. In fact, they have been sent over 67 reminders since late 2004 via email and chosen to ignore the problem!

Of late, she has also suggested a permanent solution to this persistent water problem by requesting the relevant authorities to invest in and build a desalination plant which is not only environmentally friendly, but very possible, given that we live on the coast. Some of our beach hotels have installed their own private plants for desalinating the sea water. One example being Nyali Beach Hotel.

Consider this:

Digging bore-holes all over the place is not a sustainable long term viable option when you factor in their long term environmental impact. Consider the following…

1. These bore-holes and wells would be using precious ground water which is not being replenished fast enough due to lack of enough rain.

2. Our forest cover due to de-forestation, is nearly gone and therefore our water catchment areas with it.

3. There is a global climate change and the snows on the world’s mountains including our own Mt. Kenya, etc., are losing their precious storage of water due to snow melt. If anybody has noted, all the 3 mountains in the East Africa region have little or no snow these days.

4. Again, due to global warming, the polar ice caps are also melting very fast and sea-levels are rising in the process. If, we continue as we are doing by messing around with the environment, some of the coastal towns and cities world wide will find themselves under water. One example is Mambrui, North of Malindi which is slowly sinking under sand! There was a report on it some time ago in a local newspaper about how the residents have to keep moving further and further inland due to the rising sea-levels which is burying their houses in the sand every year after the rainy season.

5. Seawater desalination technologies that produce fresh water from seawater include thermal distillation methods, electric dialyzing methods and the reverse osmosis process. In the Middle East the main method in the past has been thermal distillation but one method that is gaining in popularity, not only in the Saudi Arabia, but in Japan, Indonesia, Bahrain and the USA, is the Reverse Osmosis method using semi permeable reverse osmosis hollow fibre membrane module technology, where seawater desalination can provide fresh drinking water capacity of up to 50,000 cubic metres /day (13.2 million gallons/day), that meets the highest drinking water quality standards.

An efficient and Sustainable Solution.

Now, if we consider all of the above, do we still want to keep digging deeper and deeper to access water for daily use? Instead, why don’t we convince our policy makers to invest the recent Ksh 71 million that the Ministry of Water allocated for the development of water in the Coast Province, by utilizing this money to start building a desalination plant?

Of course, this is peanuts, when it comes to investing in a desalination plant/s, but, is the more viable and better option for all concerned. It is anticipated that Coast residents, would not mind paying a little extra as long as it means getting a predictable and sustainable supply of water every day. As it is now, they pay phantom water bills and receive nothing in return!

What can we do?

The Coast water service providers have failed to meet their basic obligations and requirements to provide an efficient and sustainable water supply and appear to be extremely averse to any such suggestion for improvement or investment. If we are to protect the long term future of the Coast and have a water supply that is of a high quality for drinking, our policy makers must not allow the situation to deteriorate any further. Hence, this Petition, which will have a lawyer’s endorsement making it a legal document to compel the water service providers to do exactly that and in the most transparent manner possible.

The best results are achieved by all people working together as an inclusive team, looking for the best way forward and by being open to good ideas.

The Community Campaign Group is about where you live.

Please, sign the Petition for a better service from them.

Yours sincerely,

All Mombasa Residents

cc: Ministry of Water & his Permanent Secretary

     Norah A. Osoro, Water & Sanitation Program - AF, World Bank
     Elijah Agevi, City Hall Annex, 1st Floor, City Council of Nairobi

Mombasa Water and Sewerage Company

Coast Water Services Board

City Council of Mombasa

Kenya Alliance of Resident Association (KARA)

ConsumerFirst Network

All the Media Houses

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