Water restored to Umoja amidst demolitions row

Water supply has been restored to Umoja Innercore, a month after water and sewer lines got entangled in a city planning mishap.

Part of the fast growing Umoja Innercore suburb of Nairobi.

Part of the fast growing Umoja Innercore suburb of Nairobi.

Residents of Innercore are now getting clean water after more than a month of dry taps. The Nairobi City Water & Sewerage Company (NCWSC) shut off the water supply after it discovered that the main water pipe had got entangled with the estate’s sewer line. During this period, Umoja residents have had to buy water from trucks at exorbitant rates.

Following the resumption in water supply, the City Council of Nairobi has began demolishing residential flats built on top of utility services (water, sewer, power and phone lines). Landlords affected by the demolitions deny responsibility for the mess and have presented documents showing their buildings were approved by city planning officers years ago.

According to a press release by the NCWSC, the source of the pollution was a section of a water mains that had been poorly repaired and thus exposed to contamination. The company’s technical team found cases of vandalism of manhole covers and several illegal connections on the water and sewer network, some of which were cut off pending investigations.

Dumping of solid waste such as plastic bags, wood, old clothing and food remains contributed to a breakdown in the sewer system, forcing the NCWSC to unblock over 3km of sewer lines in the area.

The water company says the clean water network was flushed, sterilized and commissioned, but customers are advised to, “clean their storage tanks before starting to use them because the tanks must have been contaminated.”

During the water supply crisis, Umoja has witnessed an exodus of tenants, forcing landlords to lower house rents. With the City Council vowing to remove apartments built on top of utility lines, Umoja’s landlords are not yet sleeping easy.

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