A rapidly expanding population is stretching the capacity of Kigali city to assure piped water supply to its rural districts.
Piped water contractors in Kigali environs say they are stretched as settlements expand with each seeking to be connected to mostly old water networks with low production.
“As the situation stands today, we can no longer guarantee connection to every household,” said Cyprien Sebikwekwe, chairperson of the Forum of Private Rural Water Operators.
Sebikwekwe said only 10 per cent of the residents currently seeking to have water piped to their premises can be connected.
Residents of newly-established and expanding settlements across Kigali’s former rural areas and neighbouring provincial districts have found themselves underserved in terms of basic physical and social amenities such as water, roads, and sewage systems.
The areas, like the rest of the rural parts of the country, are served by private water contractors who run over 1,000 water supply facilities through public private partnerships.
Operators say these facilities comprise mainly decades-old water supply and distribution networks synonymous with low production and high water losses, hence failure to cope with the growing water demand.
The contractors say unless districts prioritise water infrastructure upgrade and extension in their spending, the growing demand will not be met.
Kamonyi District Executive Secretary Emmanuel Bahizi, told Rwanda Today that the district would need close to Rwf500 million ($591,510) to carry out rehabilitation of all its water systems to ensure the water demand in upcoming settlements in areas of Gacurabwenge, Rugalika and Runda.
“It is a huge amount of money, and it was difficult to budget for it this year due to competing priorities. We will possibly set aside some allocation in the 2018/19 financial year,” Bahizi said.
Kamonyi shares similar concerns with Rulindo, Gasabo, Rwamagana and Bugesera which also require hundreds of million francs each to meet the demand of their former rural areas turned urban settlements.
Meanwhile, technicians on the ground told Rwanda Today that they had been directed to stop connecting more households to the water network, but rather prioritise equity through communal access points. This has resulted in longer queues on the tap.
The government targets a hundred per cent clean water supply by the end of this year with several on-going projects. Official figures indicate that in addition to rehabilitating water infrastructure, the 100 per cent access target will be dependent on over 17 projects whose completion is slated for 2017 and 2018.
Despite Kigali’s increased water production capacity thanks to the upgrade and construction of Nzove II and I respectively to serve Kigali and environs, the demand is rapidly overtaking supply.