By Benjamin Epeduno
There was shock in Katakwi as the State Minister for Education and sports ordered for the arrest of the Eastern Water Umbrella Station Manager in Katakwi for allegedly levying high water tariffs on water users.
Hon Peter Ogwang was compelled to order for the arrest of Samuel Ediau on Saturday, 29th October after area residents raised complaints that they are being over charged for the water supplied by government.
The Disgruntled residents who turned up in Angopet, Apeleun and Kololo to forward their complaints to the Hon. Minister said they are made pay between 200 to 300 shillings per jerican in public taps yet it’s supposed to be at 50 shillings per jerrican.
A private tap charges 200 shillings.
Ediau who was present in the meeting failed to explain the high tariffs when given the opportunity by the Minister prompting the arrest.
“Our Water Umbrella is charging 2,542 shillings per unit in town council like Katakwi because we use power and for areas like Magoro and other places we charge about 2,000 shillings because we use solar,” a highly placed source from water Umbrella revealed to this website.
He added that areas where electricity is being used to pump water like Katakwi Town Council, the charges are higher because at the end of the month, the power bills are and areas where solar is being used, there’s no big charge levied to clients.
One unit produces about 50 jerrycans implying that each jerrycan costs about 50 shillings.
The Minister said that he has now instituted a plan to investigate Electricity power supply in Katakwi also following concerns from the residents that, there’s too much power blackouts in the district, something which has escalated theft in the district.
“I’m told when power goes off at night, the next morning the cases of theft and burglary are registered, but I will find it out from the Manager of UEDCL, Mr. Peter Okoboi,” Ogwang said.
Recently it was reported that, the Eastern Water Umbrella failed to account for over 203Million shillings for the water supplied to Katakwi Town Council through the said Water Umbrella under the Ministry of Water and Environment which operates in the 34 districts of Eastern Uganda.
It supplied over four million liters of water to Katakwi Town Council without collecting cash commensurate to the supply.
Samuel Ediau the Eastern Water Umbrella Station Manager in Katakwi recently said that, his station pumps over nine million liters of water to 632 water consumers but they end up collecting less than 35 percent of the expected revenue every month.
Ediau says that the losses are incurred through illegal consumption, something he notes is causing a loss of over 50 percent to the eastern water umbrella.
Piera Walker, the Regional Manager in charge of Eastern Water Umbrella during the 2021 annual General meeting with water users of the Umbrella in Katakwi town council said that, they are going to constitute a committee to monitor and investigate illegal connections, adding that anyone found culpable will be produced to in court, but this has not happened.
The Government of Uganda through the Ministry of Water and Environment (MWE) and other developmental partners established water umbrellas to provide safe water and improved sanitation and Hygiene to the mushrooming town councils in the country but it seems to be bringing mayhem to the consumers who feel dissatisfied with the operations.
The umbrellas are regionally based and mandated to directly manage and support Piped Water Supply and Sanitation facilities in line with CAP-152, Section 50-52 of the Water Act.
But, Dorothy Akengo, a resident in Katakwi Town Council says that, the statement of losses is a camouflage for the mismanagement of funds by the officials under the umbrella.
“I don’t think that Katakwi here has people more knowledgeable on plumbing than the team sent from Kampala. If indeed there are leakages, it must be within the system which should be investigated. My prayer is that they shouldn’t disconnect us during Christmas celebrations”, people shouted said.