NMS taps technology to tame illegal water sellers in city estates


A water vendor in Kaloleni, Nairobi. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NMG

Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) has turned to technology to rein in unscrupulous water vendors plying their trade in Nairobi.

This comes after the Mohamed Badi-led administration announced that it is in the process of developing an application that will enable city residents to identify all registered water bowsers in Nairobi.

The app, being developed in collaboration with the Ministry of Water and Sanitation, will also allow the residents to choose the supplier to buy from.

According to the NMS, the app will operate like a taxi-hailing service showing the number of water bowsers available in a specific area from which residents will be able to order water from bowsers near them.

“NMS in collaboration with the Ministry of Water and Sanitation is in the process of developing an app that will enable customers to view all registered water bowsers and allow them to choose which one to buy from,” said the NMS.

It will also show where the water bowsers collect their water and the amount they have paid for the water while also indicating to the user the amount a vendor is selling.

“This will eliminate the exorbitant prices charged by water vendors across the capital city as well as ensure the safety of the water you order,” said NMS.

As part of the plan, NMS in collaboration with Water Services Regulatory Board (Wasreb) in 2020 embarked on registration and monitoring of vendors and bowsers operations in the city in order to regulate the cost and quality of water.

All water vendors using bowsers within the metropolitan area were required to apply for registration and undergo strict vetting and licensing before being given the go-ahead to operate.

The new development comes as a response to cries from residents of informal settlements in Nairobi who continue to purchase water at exorbitant prices due to lack of adequate water supply.

Despite the residents being low salary earners, they are forced to dig deeper into their pockets to buy water from the vendors who make a kill by charging as high as Sh50 for a 20-litre jerrican with the source and quality of water not known.

The same amount of water goes for Sh2 or less when sourced from Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company.

Nairobi residents have had to put up with water rationing since April 2017 with some estates even going without water for weeks if not months.

This is because Nairobi Water is only able to supply 525,000 cubic metres daily to the residents against a demand that currently stands at 850,000 cubic metres per day, leaving a deficit of 325,000 cubic metres.

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