Water is life. But residents of Kigali City are now finding life extremely difficult as water rationing increases.
The shortage has pushed prices of water in some areas to an all time high from Frw20 to Frw100—a-20-litres jerrican.
Some residents attribute the shortage to dropping water levels in rivers that Electrogaz, pumps water to supply Kigali City.
But Electrogaz says the increasing number of customers is overstretching their capacity.
Whereas the water utility company had planned to supply few people in the city, the number of consumers is growing year-in-year-out.
As of last month, the company had registered an additional 2,000 consumers.
In 2007, the utility company had only 68,000 customers; however this year the number has increased to 70,000 customers.
To avert the looming water crisis that may hit the city, Frw15.5 billion has been invested in the Nyabarongo treatment plant, a project slated to be completed this year.
With Nyabarongo, the government water project will have the capacity to provide an additional 40,000 cubic metres (40 million litres) of water per hour.
Electrogaz currently supplies between 34,000 cubic metres (34 million litres) to 38,000 cubic metres (38 million litres) of water per hour but the city needs 70.000m3 (70 million litres) per hour.
The demand has grown from 67,000 m3 (67 million litres) last year, hourly.
“We are planning new sources. Fixing new pipes so as to ease distribution and solve future water shortages in Kigali City,” Jean Bosco Kanyesheja Director of Water Department in Electrogaz said.
He said the company is developing the Nyabarongo project as a short term solution to avert the current water shortage in the city.
Part of the Nyabarongo project involves the construction of 10,000m3 (10 million litres) reservoir which will be the main distributor of water to 32,000 customers in the city.
“The government has the responsibility to invest in the sector and Electrogaz has the responsibility of managing the water system.
Since 1999 to 2006, the lowest social tariff was at Frw200 per unit and the highest was at Frw375.
Management of Elecrogaz increased the charges to Frw240 and Frw740 per cubic meter (1,000 litres) respectively.
Consumers of between 100m3 (100,000 litres) to 500m3 (500,000 litres) are charged Frw740.
The increase in tariffs has helped the company to cater for its operating costs and save for small investments in water sector.
So far, they have invested in different water projects including the development of a new source in Rwampara in Kigali City.
This plant will provide water to Gikondo residents in Kicukiro district, an area that has been hard hit by rationing due the current water shortage. The project is worth Frw100 million.
Kigali City is currently supplied by Karengye with 9,000m3, Nyabarongo 3,000m3 and the biggest water treatment plant of Kimisagara, which supplies 22,0000m3.
Underground water and additional wells in Kanzenze, Nyamata district are to be improved to supply Kicukiro district.
And as long term solution, Electrogaz plans to develop a water plant at Mutobo in Nothern Province.
To keep water affordable, Kanyesheja suggested that water chemicals should be exempted from taxes to avoid increase in tariffs.
Development partners have helped the company up water production.
They include Opep, a European Union firm that is financing a water project in Butare worth $4 million and ADB that injected $8m in the rehabilitation of water system in Kigali City.
The other project to supply water in Ruhango district worth Frw800 million and is expected to end this year.