Dozens of mails and messages received indicate that the Coast Water Services Board is once again employing crude methods to extract payment from water distributors in two counties, namely Kilifi and Mombasa. While these proverbial elephants now fight over who owes whom how much, dozens of hotels, at a time when tourism has notably picked up, have failed to draw water from their pipes.
The Mombasa Water Supply and Sanitation Company is said to owe CWSB in excess of 600 million Kenya shillings, while Kilifi’s and Malindi’s combined debt is reported to top 360 million Kenya shillings.
It is understood from sources within the hotel industry at the coast that most resorts have paid their monthly water bills to their direct supplier, therefore, feeling aggrieved and frustrated that their water supply has been cut.
“Now that we again have more foreign tourists coming to the coast, they cut our water. How are we going to explain that. Instead of water from the pipes we now have to use tankers to fill our storage units. This is expensive, not always reliable and the water at times is brackish. How these people at the Water Service Board do not see the huge economic impact of their action I fail to see. Surely there are mechanisms in place to have the local water companies pay up what they owe because we, the hotels, by and large meet our obligations. This is very brutish and can immediately destroy our gains we made to bring more tourists here,” said a regular source from the coast.
The current action is a mirror image to what the Coast Water Services Board did in October last year, when even the county of Kwale was cut off before the intervention of a member of cabinet resolved the issue. That, however, seems to have been forgotten by the bigwigs of the CWSB who willfully inflicted the same misery on tourists and coast residents this time again without seeking cabinet intervention themselves. “They could have appealed to higher authorities surely? Now it is up to us to use our own tourism cabinet secretary Najib Balala to help us. Whoever did this should be fired for gross misconduct and for sabotaging tourism recovery,” added another regular commentator from Mombasa.
To make matters worse, schools, hospitals and health centers are also reportedly affected by the move of the Coast Water Services Board. This prompted calls for criminal prosecutions against CWSB managers and board members, should patients die or diseases break out affecting schools as a result of the water supply to the county suppliers being cut.