A group of angry Lilongwe residents yesterday stormed the general manager’s office at Lilongwe Water Board (LWB), demanding an explanation on why their water taps have remained dry for over a year.
The seven-man group, led by Adamson Chinyama, was representing a community in Area 25 of the city where they have had no access to water even before a recent strike by LWB staff.
“At best we do have one hour of running water in the middle of the night once a month and this is unbearable. We demand that we be treated the same way as all water consumers in the country.
“How do we bear with the situation where you stay for months on end without water while your neighbour has running water with afew hour s of interruptions?” queried Chinyama in an interview.
At Chilinde area in the city, consumers have formed a group and they are demanding an improvement in water supply within 10 days from yesterday or else they will seek a court injunction to stop LWB from continuing issuing them water bills.
Willard Njikho, a resident of Chilinde, said it is “sheer theft” for the board to continue collecting money from them while they are drinking water from unprotected wells most of the times.
Another Chilinde resident, Anthony Maenda, said the absence of safe water supply from LWB is now forcing residents to buy water from the black market at K100 per 20 litre pail, making it even more expensive to maintain sanitation in the homes.
“We are being forced to buy water from unprotected sources and at the same time we are paying Lilongwe Water Board for water that is not being supplied,” Maenda said.
Reacting to the concerns, LWB General Manager Gabriel Gonani said the problems are mainly emanating from vandalised board infrastructure, which he said has rendered the board incapable of pumping sufficient water to the affected communities in Chilinde, Area 25 and other places.
He said the water supply system in Lilongwe was installed in the 1960s to service a much smaller population than the current one million plus.
“This year was earmarked for major rehabilitation works in Lilongwe Water Board which were supposed to end in September, but the project period has been extended by further 90 days due to problems such as shortage of fuel and increased cost of purchasing materials,” he said.
Gonani, however, said LWB would not bill consumers for water they did not use and urged clients to record water meter readings in their homes for verification with the board.
At the meeting with Gonani, Area 25 consumers were represented by Geoffrey Kumwenda, Adamson Chinyama, Zalimba Makawa, Stephane Thomson, Peter Magasa, Collins Kaunda and Hlekwayo Nyangulu