By Fred Biketi
Loitokitok, Kimana and surrounding areas frequently suffer from an acute shortage of water despite the fact that the area hosts the giant Nolturesh Water Company.
Area residents complain that local people never benefitted from the project since it began in 1988 because all the water in the pipeline flows through gravity from the slopes of Mt Kilimanjaro to Makueni, Machakos all the way to Kajiado.
“Almost all the water goes to Machakos County although a generator was installed to pump water from down-hill to tanks here from where it can flow by gravity to homes but it hardly operates because of non-payment of electricity bills,” says area senior chief Isaiah ole Samana.
Many learning institutions near the Nolturesh pipeline like Inkisanchani, Shurie and Olorika primary schools, alongside Enkii Boys Secondary have no water.
The chief says they have been promised by Governor Joseph ole Lenku that the issue will be resolved so that local residents can benefit from the water.
To make matters worse water levels in Nolturesh river and its tributaries have greatly diminished because the little that is left is diverted by farmers for furrow irrigation.
Lack of water caused frequent clashes between wildlife and people living in ranches as the animals left the park to search for the scarce resource in settlement areas.
Many residents have dug their own boreholes while other residents have formed groups to pipe water from Tanzania which flows to tanks situated on hill tops from where it flows by gravity to homes that havepaid up for the water.
“They spoke to Tanzania government water department officials who gave conditions which were fulfilled before they connected the group to their water supply,” said Samana.
The Kajiado South Constituency Development Fund has also helped drill and pump water from bore holes to tanks in some locations which serve residents of Loitokitok.
Area Sub County Regional Commissioner Lawrence Kinyua however said the water problem will soon be dealt with through the Oloitokitok Water and Sanitation project which is about 60% complete.
“The problem with Nolturesh is lack of power to run the turbines but the new project has a one acre solar power farm which will generate enough power to run the turbines and generators,” said Kinyua.
It is expected that excess power from the project which is expected to be ready by June this year will be sold to the national grid.
Kinyua told County Press that the water shortage problem in the area is persistent in all the five wards of Rombo, Kuku, Kimana, Imbirikani and Lenkisim but they all have boreholes from where they get water.
“We have water challenges but hopefully they will be dealt with because the contractor has informed me that the solar panels are already in Nairobi, ready for delivery to the project site,” said Kinyua.
The Nolturesh project is overseen by the Water Resources Management Authority (WARMA) which controls the use of water and the rehabilitation of the water basin.
“We deal with the management of the resource itself in the entire Athi Basin or the Athi catchment area to ensure that river flow from the highlands to the ocean is not interfered with,” said area Warma Manager Robert Owaga.
Although they are aware of the water challenges facing residents of Loitokitok Sub County, they lay the blame squarely on the Loitokitok Water and Sewerage Company which manages the Nolturesh water project.
The water company was allocated a permit by Warma to extract from the Nolturesh Water Spring and supply to Kajiado, Machakos and TaitaTaveta counties.
“Apart from allocating permits to water users among them water companies, we also take care of conservationissues to make sure the area is well maintained, fenced and trees planted to stop soil erosion,” said Owaga.
They also protect riparian areas like wetlands and river sources by engaging local communities and water users associations in activities like floods control and aforestation.
Although Warma engages the water companies to ensure they comly with required standards in the area, they leave the day to day running of water management activities to them.
“The consumers deal directlywith the NoltureshCompany being the bulk water supplier and the Loitokitok Water and Sewerage Company handling operations locally,” said Owaga.