When President Museveni commissioned the Shs36b Lirima Large Gravity Flow Scheme in Namisindwa District last year, the residents jubilated in anticipation of access to clean and safe water.
But one year down the road, the residents claim nothing has changed due to the high charges levied by National Water and Sewerage Cooperation (NWSC).
“The fees being charged have made us resort to fetching water from wells as we did previously,” Mr Abel Nashimolo, the chairperson of water board in Magale Sub-county, said at the weekend.
They said they pay Shs6,000 per cubic unit of water, an amount unaffordable for many of them, during the commissioning of public stand taps and toilet facilities for markets in Manafwa and Namisindwa districts by NWSC at the weekend.
The managing director of NWSC, Mr Silver Mugisha, said the government cannot afford to scrap charges on water in the area as it will set a bad precedent in the country.
“Because when we remove tax on water in Namisindwa District, the people of Kampala who are giving us a lot of money will also stop paying for the water,” he said.
Mr Mugisha revealed that they will extend water to other sub-counties in Namisindwa and Manafwa districts.
“We are going to ensure that those who don’t have water, will get it in the next financial year,” Mr Mugisha said.
President Museveni commissioned a 200km gravity water scheme last year with the aim of increasing crop production and ensuring that people in Namisindwa, Manafwa and Tororo districts have access to clean and safe water.
The scheme was funded by the government of Uganda in partnership with the African Development Bank. The scheme has capacity of 1296 cubic metres of treated water per day serving a population of more than 500 households.
About the scheme
The scheme has its source in Soono Village, Bukokha Sub-county on river Lwakhakha, with more than 900 connections. Mr James Watuwa, another resident, appealed to government to intervene and ensure NWSC waives off the charges to enable them access clean and safe water.
“The water is expensive and we can’t afford it. President Museveni told us to use the water freely for both irrigation and domestic use but we cannot do that now,” he said.
The Namisindwa District Woman MP, Ms Grace Watuwa, said gravity water should be cheap.
“Gravity water flow is cheaper to treat and there is no need to be expensive,” Ms Watuwa, said, adding that NWSC does not use electricity to pump the water.
The state Minister for Environment, Dr Mary Goretti Kitutu, said the President directed that each village should have a safe and clean water facility.