Naalya, Bukoto residents grapple with water crisis

By Nelson Wesonga

Kampala- For 23 days now, Eric Alema, a resident of Naalya in Kampala, has been waking up at 2am.
That is when water starts flowing in the taps in the area.
“Supply is erratic. We are getting water at 2am. It flows until 6am and stops,” says Mr Alema.

“At first, I thought it was a one-off. But it persisted; I called the National Water and Sewerage Corporation [NWSC] customer care. Their explanations do not add up,” he adds.

According to Mr Alema, the customer care teller attributed the problem to a damaged booster pump near the Electoral Commission in the city centre.

The teller then reportedly gave him the number of one of its engineers.
The engineer, Mr Alema said, the water level in the Naguru reservoir was low and, therefore, the pressure could not adequately push flow on the Naalya ascend.

Mr Sam Apedel, the corporation’s public relations manager, said power problems at Ggaba water works have limited them to 10 million litres of water, less than the average uptake in Kampala.

“We have a power outage at the Ggaba water works, which shut down all the three treatment plants on Sunday and also yesterday around midday. We do not have standby generators [yet] all the three plants use 10 megawatts,” he said. Mr Apedel noted that whenever there are power interruptions at the water treatment plant, they can only pump 230 million litres instead of the 240 million-litre daily uptake in Kampala. This, he said, means water reservoirs drain faster than demand.

“For the supply to stabilise, they have to wait for water pressure to build up and if homes do not have reservoirs, they have to wait until the pressure builds up,” he said.

In a March 27, 2014 interview with Sunrise, a weekly paper, NWSC Managing Director Silver Mugisha committed to improve water supply reliability.

He was quoted as saying the challenges the corporation faced included rapid population growth, resulting in demand outstripping their capacity. This, Dr Mugisha said then, causes shortages and illegal tapping of water.

In the current water supply crisis, parts of Bukoto and Ntinda suburbs are also affected, according to one resident.

“Because of the power outage, we had to turn off the booster at Centenary Park. That has compromised the water level in the reservoir in Naguru, which supplies Bukoto and Naalya. Now that power supply has been restored, the water level should begin to build up overnight and people should have normal supply by morning,” Mr Apedel said yesterday.

Additional reporting by Stephen Otage

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