Kenya: Nairobi residents claim water officials fleecing them

City residents are accusing some officials of the Nairobi Water and Sewerage Company (NWSC) of extortion.

They claim they are subjected to unfair disconnections and then forced to pay a Sh1,000 re-connection fee, which they pocket. Anthony Njeru, a resident on Menelik Road in Kilimani, said his water was irregularly disconnected months ago despite clearing his bills.

"I had a bill of Sh900, which I had paid through mobile money transfer on November 28, 2016. On the 30th, officials from the Nairobi water company came knocking and disconnected my water, claiming I had an outstanding balance," he said.

Mr Njeru said the officials told him they had printed his bill on the 27th and their records showed he had not paid. They proceeded to disconnect his water despite his showing them proof of payment.

"They told me that the payment was not reflected in their system and that if I wanted my water to be re-connected, I should pay them a Sh1,000 fee," said Njeru.

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The officials ended up disconnecting the meter reader and soon after sent him an additional bill of Sh5,000.

"They said they usually targeted high-end areas because they knew that residents would pay immediately to have their water re-connected," Njeru said.

Mbaruk Vyakweli, the NWSC communications director, said residents should refrain from paying any money to the officials.

"You should pay directly to our offices or through mobile money transfer platforms," he said, while clarifying that money paid through mobile transfer took a while to reflect on their end.

Mr Vyakweli also said that those who defaulted on their bills were required to pay Sh1,000 according to the new city tariffs.

JThiong'[email protected]

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