The National Water and Sanitation Council (Nwasco) has issued a strong directive to Chambeshi Water Supply and Sanitation Company to submit a detailed time bound action plan of how it will conclusively address all outstanding directives within 14 days of receipt of the directive.
Chambeshi was a recipient of the US$53 million water improvement project in northern Zambia initiated in 2017, to help alleviate the long-standing water challenges in Kasama and other northern region towns.
But according to a recent survey conducted by MakanDay, Kasama residents still encounter persistent challenges, including insufficient water supply, the absence of account numbers, and ongoing leakages. This is occurring despite the completion and handover of the mega project to Chambeshi in October 2023.
NWASCO acknowledged these challenges, in response to a press query, stating to MakanDay that they are aware of the difficulties encountered by Chambeshi Water in service provision, even after the successful completion of the $53 million water improvement project in northern Zambia.
“Last week, NWASCO met the management from the utility (Chambeshi) to raise concern on the non-compliance issues such as insufficient water supply, absence of account numbers and on-going leakages that are contributing to high non- revenue water which has also constrained service provision,” said Mpunga Chipepo Simukwai, Nwasco’s Public Relations and Communication Manager in a statement.
“In response to the challenges, NWASCO issued a strong directive to Chambeshi Water Supply and Sanitation Company to show cause as to why punitive action should not be taken against it.”
Chambeshi was also directed to submit a detailed time bound action plan of how it will conclusively address all outstanding directives within 14 days of receipt of the directive, which “NWASCO will keenly follow up implementation of the action plan”.
Furthermore, Nwasco has acknowledged, "We are aware that the low voltage power supply in Kasama has adversely affected the duration of water supply." However, several Kasama residents who spoke to MakanDay are unaware that the low voltage in the area, including those who leave near the water distribution site.
Nwasco added, "The water utility could take additional measures. In case of supply interruptions, the utility is obligated to promptly notify customers, allowing them to prepare and store sufficient water for when it becomes available," emphasised Simukwai.
“The water utility could do more in that, in the event of interruption of supply, the utility is required to alert the customers in good time, so that they can make arrangements to store enough water when it is available,” said Nwasco.
Nwasco stipulates that water companies must comply with Service Level Guarantees (SLGs) encompassing various parameters, including supply hours and water quality. SLGs ensure that water companies commit to providing customers with a defined level of service at a specified price, ensuring 'value for money.'
In cases of non-compliance, companies receive directives from Nwasco to address the identified concerns within a designated timeframe. If improvements are not made, various sanctions may be imposed on the utility, ranging from penalties and special regulatory supervision to tariff embargoes and, in extreme cases, revocation of the license.
MakanDay has been closely following this matter, and the groundbreaking story on the issue can be accessed here.