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Vendors make a killing as water shortage begins to bite in Nairobi

Five estates in Nairobi have endured an acute water shortage over the last one week in the wake of water rationing in the county.

Although the impact of water shortage in the city is yet to take full effect following an announcement by the distributing firm, the effects are already been felt.

Late last year, the Nairobi Water and Sewerage Company announced that the rationing would start on January 1, 2017 due to low water levels in the dam due following failed rains.

In Huruma estate, residents say that they have not had water for the last one month therefore they are used to dry taps.

However, John Mwangi who runs an illegal water connection from the Moi Airbase main pipe supply says business is booming since he is supplying water to the whole of Huruma.


Mr Mwangi said that he sells to suppliers at five shilling for every 20 litre jerrican. The vendors in turn sell each jerrican for Sh 50.

“I make between Sh 4,000 and Sh 10,000 a day from selling clean water from the Air Force main water line,” said Mr Mwangi.

Mr Mwangi said that when there is a normal supply they sell a jerrican at Sh 3 which is sold to the residents for Sh 20.

The main Moi Airbase water line has more than 10 water points where the residents have illegally connected and opened different businesses including laundry, car wash and hotels.

Chrispin Ngara, one of the vendors who owns a hand cart, said that he makes more than 20 trips and that he anticipate huge profits if water rationing continues.

Businessmen in Kiamaiko – the biggest goat market in Huruma – said that water shortage in the area will affect their businesses as they have to maintain cleanliness to stop an outbreak of diseases.


Mr Kuno Gayo, a butcher in Kiamaiko, said that in a day they use 2,000 litres of water and they have improvised ways to save more water in anticipation of water shortage.

In Mathare estate, the residents have expressed fear that the water suppliers will be hoarding stored water so that they can hike the prices at the onset of the rationing.

Millicent Atieno, a resident of Mathare North, said that the rationing of water in the area is not acute as it is been cut off systematically.

“Since last week we seem to have the water cut in such a way that one plot has water and the neighboring plot gets water in the evening so the problem is manageable,” said Ms Otieno.

In South C, residents have not had water for the last one week forcing them to reserve water in storage containers.