Lilongwe Water Board’s (LWB) eight-month water rationing, which will cut water production by about 50 percent, will result in K6 billion (about $9.5million) loss in potential revenue, the board’s chief executive officer Alfonso Chikuni has said.
LWB’s two water sources—Kamuzu Dams one and two in Malingunde—will not have enough water for the next eight months due to erratic rains this year.
Chikuni said the board’s annual total turnover is about K12 billion (about $19million), with 33 percent going towards procurement of chemicals, 28 percent for electricity bills and 20 percent for salaries and the remaining for other company expenditure.
He admitted that about half of the total LWB revenue will not be realised and this will stop most of the expansion projects they had embarked on.
Said Chikuni: “Our turnover annually is K12 billion and a chunk of that goes to Escom [Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi], purchase of chemicals and paying staff.
“In my assumption, it is Escom which will suffer the most because we will be collecting less revenue but then we might still be paying in the same range because stopping and starting a machine is expensive other than when it is running normally without interruptions.”
As a mitigating factor, he said they are planning to sink 45 boreholes at Chitedze, Airwing, Kanengo and Lumbadzi which will cost the board K4 billion to ensure that water is available in the capital city.
But Chikuni said they do not have enough money to sink the said boreholes.
“We have no option but to go to the banks, but now we are also scared because of high interest rates in our commercial banks. Others have suggested that we use water bowsers to supply residents with water but the problem is that we do not have enough water in the reservoirs.”
When asked if LWB has thought of tapping water from Lake Malawi in Salima, which is about 100 kilometres away, Chikuni said the move will be costly because no donor has ever committed to fund the project.
“If we require $300 million [about K213 billion] to complete the Diamphwe Project which is about 30 kilometres from Lilongwe, how much will the Salima project cost?” he wondered.
Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe said it is government’s priority to ensure that Lilongwe has water all the time and that money has to be found in one way or the other.
“We cannot have homes without water but we must admit the water table has gone down and we need to be sinking boreholes here and there to minimise the problem. In fact I have asked [Lilongwe] Water Board people to come and see us and we are waiting for them because we can’t have a city without water,” he said.
Meanwhile, the World Bank has committed $71 million (about K50 billion) for the construction of the Diamphwe Dam, a treatment plant, pipeline and distribution pipes.