It guarantees them access to free trickles, but the loss is immense and it denies the rest of their communities a right to safe water.
Frequent sights of crowds drawing water from broken pipes in Blantyre and other cities show how far some residents will go to satisfy their needs at the expense of the rest of the community.
The destruction of water pipes could be a class struggle, a silent war between the haves and have-nots.
Thirsting for water
Authorities say the destroyers often comprise low-income earners who collectively break the pipes with reckless abandon, fill their buckets and wander off.
They feel neglected, saying they are sick and tired of sourcing drinking water from wells and rivers while pipelines pass through backyards.
The population at the receiving end often summon authorities to maintain the pipeline, but those with no access to piped water vandalise the pipelines shortly after Blantyre Water Board (BWB) faults teams leave.
“We want clean water for domestic use, not the murky waters from rivers and wells,” says one of the have-nots.
The major losers are the households connected to the pipeline and water boards.
Chileka resident Frank Maulidi says they go several days without water.
He implores the water board to replace plastic pipes with metal ones and extend low-cost water kiosks to communities thirsting for safe water.
He explains: “The problem is not fading away as vandalised pipes are being replaced by equally prone ones.
“Besides installing steel pipes, we need to look at the root of the problem. For as little as K35, a low-income household can have access to clean water at the kiosk.”
He reckons most of the people with no taps in their homes do small-scale businesses which generate more than K100 a day.
“They can afford two or three buckets for their homes,” he says.
Detecting the manmade faults is never easy because water supply is “normal erratic”, the locals say.
They usually stumble into the breakages when people converge to draw bucketfuls.
Chika Sambani says broken pipes offer a temporary relief since they save the money earmarked for purchasing clean water at the kiosk.
She says women seldom break pipes, laying the blame on malicious boys and men.
Sambani says women only take advantage of the broken pipes to tap the water that would still have gone down the drain anyway.
“Clean water is not readily accessible. Do you expect us to rush to report the faults instead of just utilising the opportunity?” she asks.
But Chileka is just one of the heavily affected locations.
Similar cases have been reported in Ndirande, Bangwe, Chilomoni, Machinjiri, Zingwangwa and Naperi.
In these areas, broken water pipes are a common sight.
At times, those who rely on taps spend weeks without water due.
Despite establishing kiosks, where buckets of clean water cost between K20 and K80, vandalism of water pipes seems ceaseless.
K48 million wasted
The spills and everyday replacement of broken pipes cost almost K48 million every month, says BWB public affairs officer Priscilla Mateyu.
She explained that the water company receives numerous reports daily.
Mateyu pointed out that most of the reports of vandalism emanate from areas where many residents have no taps.
The publicist is convinced that even steel pipes would be targeted by more vandals that just those in need of clean water.
She says: “When we install steel pipes, they vandalise them and use the pipes for making hoe handles and other things.
By contrast, plastic pipes are vandalised for free water for drinking, washing and other purposes. This denies our customers access to clean water.”
Mateyu says the water board has been sensitising masses to the ills of destroying water facilities as some prone pipes actually keep schools and hospitals supplied.
“These institutions become handicapped when pipes are broken,” says Mateyu.