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How Kenya flushes Sh11.6bn down the drain in water leakages, theft

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How Kenya flushes Sh11.6bn down the drain in water leakages, theft


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Summary

  • Water Services Regulatory Board (Wasreb) says 47 percent of the water put into the distribution system in the year ended June 2020, was not billed.
  • The volume of water lost is more than twice the allowed limit of 20 percent and is equivalent to what Nairobi residents and companies use in six-and-half months.

Kenyan water supply companies lost water worth Sh11.6 billion last year to leakages and theft, leading to unstable supply to millions of consumers and higher prices as they sought to compensate for the losses.

The Water Services Regulatory Board (Wasreb) says 47 percent of the water put into the distribution system in the year ended June 2020, was not billed, up from 43 percent in the preceding year — a result of increased leakages due to ageing networks, metering inaccuracies, theft and unmetered consumption.

The water regulator indicates that 21 counties lost more than 50 percent of the water they produced, contributing to an increase of Sh6 per unit cost of water billed on average. Consumers were last year paying Sh93 for every cubic metre consumed, up from Sh87 in 2019.

The volume of water lost is more than twice the allowed limit of 20 percent and is equivalent to what Nairobi residents and companies use in six-and-half months.

“It is worrying that 21 counties lost more than 50 percent of the water they produce…At the current level of 47 percent (nationally) and a sector turnover of Sh22.8 billion, the sector lost approximately Sh11.61 billion,” says Wasreb.

“In terms of volume, the amount lost annually after allowing for the 20 percent acceptable level of losses is 151 million cubic metres. This is adequate to serve Nairobi County with a daily demand of 750,000 cubic metres for approximately six-and-a-half months,” the water regulator notes.

The regulator blames corruption and illegal extraction for the losses and calls for strict enforcement of rules to reduce the leakages to the maximum acceptable levels of 20 percent.

“The issue of concern is that the reasons contributing to the very high levels of non-revenue water are not technical, but largely commercial and governance (corruption and illegal practices)…If this state of affairs is not mitigated, there is going to be a very great risk, which will undermine the progressive realisation of the right to water as is enshrined in the constitution,” says Wasreb.

There have been recorded cases of sabotage of supply lines in Nairobi by rogue commercial water sellers who then take advantage of the resultant shortage to sell the commodity to desperate city residents.

Across the country, Migori County accounted for the highest losses, having lost 77 percent of the water distribution. Marsabit (67 percent), Baringo (64 percent) and Kwale (63 percent) followed in that order.

These leakages have contributed massively to the water rationing that has become the norm in almost all urban areas, despite the billions pumped into the sector annually.

Piped water for many rural folks also remains a dream, forcing many to rely on either harvested water or rivers and streams.

Global conflict

The trend in Kenya is reflective of the global situation where billions of people continue to go without stable and clean water supplies, raising fears that the next major global conflict might be related to water access rights.

The World Bank noted in 2016 that about 45 million cubic metres of water valued at Sh307 billion is lost daily in developing countries, and halving these losses would save enough water to supply around 90 million people.

In Kenya, water coverage, which refers to the number of people served with drinking water against the population within the service area, declined from 59 to 57 per cent between June 2019 and June 2020.

The drop is mainly because the population grew at a faster rate of seven percent compared to a five percent growth in access.

The Wasreb report shows that water service providers served 14.7 million people against a population of 25.7 million people under their service area, across the 47 counties.

The quality of drinking water supplied also declined from 96 percent as of June 2019 to 92 percent in June 2020, partly due to ageing distribution networks that have corroded over time due to a lack of investment.

Drinking water quality has a direct impact on the health of consumers. It is a weighted composite indicator measuring compliance with residual chlorine standards (40 percent) and bacteriological standards (60 percent).

Last year, the regulator urged all water vendors within Nairobi to register with the board to ensure that service standards are adhered to in terms of quality, cost and customer care and to guarantee health and safety.

In addition, the water service regulator about a Sh13.9billion financial impact on drinking water utilities, due to Covid-19.

These impacts are a result of drinking water utilities eliminating shut-offs for non-payment, anticipated increased delinquencies as a result of high unemployment rates, reductions in non-residential water demands and associated revenues offset by increases in residential consumption and lower customer growth.

In March last year, Kenya confirmed its first case of Covid-19.

The government then issued a directive and pronounced measures requiring public water services providers to ensure a continuous and accessible supply of water and hygiene services.

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KQ resumes Mumbai flights after 4 months

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KQ resumes Mumbai flights after 4 months


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A Kenya Airways aircraft at JKIA. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Kenya Airways will on Thursday resume flights to Mumbai, ending a four-month hiatus that was occasioned by increased cases of Covid-19 in the Asian state.
  • The airline in a notice to its customers yesterday said it will resume its operations on the route on September 16, 2021 with the first flight departing Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 7am to arrive in Mumbai at 3:45 pm.

Kenya Airways #ticker:KQ will on Thursday resume flights to Mumbai, ending a four-month hiatus that was occasioned by increased cases of Covid-19 in the Asian state.

The airline in a notice to its customers Monday said it will resume its operations on the route on September 16, 2021 with the first flight departing Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 7am to arrive in Mumbai at 3:45 pm.

The airline will then resume full operations on the route on September 20, flying three times per week on the Indian route, which is one of the most lucrative destinations on its network.

Passengers on the route will part with Sh46,000 ($419) for one-way air ticket on economy class seats from Nairobi to Mumbai- prices that are relatively the same compared to what it was charging before the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Welcome back onboard! Fly from Nairobi to Mumbai starting Thursday 16th September with normal schedules resuming from Monday 20th September 2021,” said the airline in a notice to its customers yesterday.

KQ Suspended passenger flights to and from Mumbai on April 30 until further notice, following a government directive on travel between India and Kenya due to a Covid-19 crisis in that country.

The airline said on Friday that passengers who had booked tickets after May 1, the date of the last flight from Mumbai to Nairobi, will have to change their plans.

Affected passengers, KQ said, could also take vouchers for the value of their fare for future travel within 12 months.

India has seen soaring infection rates in the recent days, since the discovery of a new virus variant. Last month, India put on lockdown one of the states following a spike in cases of Covid-19.

Other countries that have banned flights to India include France, the UK Bangladesh, Oman and Hong Kong that have banned travel to and from India or asked their nationals coming from the Asian country to isolate themselves in government-approved hotels.

India has so far detected 33,264,175 corona virus cases with the number of deaths hitting 442,874 as at September 13.

A large number of patients from Kenya also travel to India every year for specialised medical treatment, especially cancer care, helping to drive medical tourism in the densely populated country that boasts affordable and easily accessible healthcare.

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Lower import volumes push mitumba prices to new highs

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Lower import volumes push mitumba prices to new highs


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Man pulls a cart loaded with second-hand clothes at Gikomba Market in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Traders paid Sh100,527 on average per tonne of the used clothes, popularly called mitumba, compared to Sh96,286 the previous year.
  • Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) banned importation of the clothes from late March through mid-August in a bid to contain the spread of the life-threatening coronavirus infections.
  • Findings of the Economic Survey 2021 suggests dealers shipped in 121,778 tonnes of mitumba in 2020, a 34.02 percent fall compared with 2019 and the lowest volumes since 2015.

The average price of a tonne of second-hand clothing items imported into the country crossed the Sh100,000 mark for the first time last year on reduced volumes in the wake of safety protocols and guidelines to curb spread of coronavirus.

Traders paid Sh100,527 on average per tonne of the used clothes, popularly called mitumba, compared to Sh96,286 the previous year.

Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) banned importation of the clothes from late March through mid-August in a bid to contain the spread of the life-threatening coronavirus infections.

Findings of the Economic Survey 2021 suggests dealers shipped in 121,778 tonnes of mitumba in 2020, a 34.02 percent fall compared with 2019 and the lowest volumes since 2015.

Last year’s drop was the first dip since 2011 when 76,533 tonnes were shipped in compared with 80,423 tonnes the previous year, the official data collated by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows.

The import bill for the merchandise amounted to Sh12.24 billion, a drop of 31.11 percent, or Sh5.53 billion, year-on-year.

TIn imposing the temporary ban on used clothes, Kebs had applied a standard which prohibits buying second-hand clothes from countries experiencing epidemics to ensure disease-causing microorganisms are not imported into Kenya.

Higher quality and relatively lower prices for mitumba has continued to drive demand for used clothes at expense of locally-made products amid higher margins enjoyed by traders largely operating in informal markets.

The lucrative second-hand clothing market has seen traders from China —a key source market for the merchandise —open shops in Gikomba, Kenya’s largest informal market for mitumba, in recent years to cash in rising demand.

Earnings from exports of articles of apparel and clothing accessories fell 5.32 percent to Sh32.92 billion last year compared with 2019, data indicates.

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Court backs Atwoli union in horticulture membership feud

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Court backs Atwoli union in horticulture membership feud


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Cotu boss Francis Atwoli. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Summary

  • A trade union that is led by the long-serving Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) boss Francis Atwoli has survived an attempt to stop it from representing over 60,000 workers in the horticulture industry.
  • Newly registered Kenya Export, Floriculture, Horticulture, and Allied Workers Union (Kefhau) had filed as a case in the Employment and Labour seeking to bar the Atwoli-led Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union (KPAWU) from representing workers in the industry.

A trade union that is led by the long-serving Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) boss Francis Atwoli has survived an attempt to stop it from representing over 60,000 workers in the horticulture industry.

Newly registered Kenya Export, Floriculture, Horticulture, and Allied Workers Union (Kefhau) had filed as a case in the Employment and Labour seeking to bar the Atwoli-led Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union (KPAWU) from representing workers in the industry.

Mr Atwoli is the secretary-general of KPAWU. The rival union claimed KPAWU had encroached on its area of workers’ representation.

Justice James Rika, however, dismissed the claim and ruled that the dispute should have been taken through conciliation, and was therefore presented in court prematurely.

He also stated that Kefhau must go beyond its registration and recruit sufficient members from the employers, to be granted recognition and organisational rights.

“Registration on its own, does not afford the claimant (Kefhau) recognition. Until there is proof that Kefhau has satisfied Section 54 of the Labour Relations Act, the status quo must be maintained,” said the judge.

“Kefhau must recruit at least 50 percent plus one, of the unionisable employees in the floriculture and horticulture industry, members of the Agricultural Employers Association to be considered for recognition,” he stated.

He noted that there is a Recognition Agreement and CBA, binding Mr Atwoli’s union and Agricultural Employers Association, affecting 73 Flower Growers Group of employers, and over 60,000 employees.

“It is objectionable for Kefhau to be allowed organisational rights, and the legitimacy to receive trade union dues and agency fees, from over 60,000 employees, just on the strength of registration as a trade union,” said the judge.

Kefhau wanted the court to declare that it is the sole trade union, which is allowed by its constitution to carry out activities in the export floriculture and vegetable industry, and an order restraining Mr Atwoli’s from representing workers in that area.

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