Sewage and water mix-up draws anger

There’s anger in Nairobi’s Umoja Estate due to a water shortage made worse by shocking revelations of incompetence by the city’s water supplier.

Part of the fast growing Umoja Innercore suburb of Nairobi.

Part of the fast growing Umoja Innercore suburb of Nairobi.

Umoja Innercore has been without water for close to two weeks after the supply was disconnected by the Nairobi City Water & Sewerage Company to avert a disease outbreak. Apparently, the estate’s main water pipe somehow got entangled with a sewer line. This means that Umoja residents have used sewage water for cooking and washing. The Nairobi Water Company last week said its engineers were working to restore water supply to Umoja Innercore.

The water company says its trucks are supplying water to the affected estate but Umoja residents say this is not enough to cope with the area’s huge population. “I saw the trucks in Umoja 2, there were none at Innercore,” a young mother told the Nairobi Chronicle, “We have to buy water from pickups and hand carts coming all the way from Kayole.” The private vendors are selling 20 litres of water for Shs20. At this rate, an average household will spend over Shs100 daily on water in an area where daily rents are about Shs250.

Umoja is a lower middle income suburb on the eastern part of Nairobi. It was first built in the 1970s with assistance from the United States. Today, the Innercore area consists of privately built, high-rise apartments catering to young couples.

Umoja Innercore has experience rapid growth in the past ten years. Shortages of power and water are common in the suburb. Roads are in tatters while garbage collection is erratic at best. The area has witnessed several shoot-outs between police and gangsters though incidences of petty crime are relatively low.

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