“Once completed, water production will increase to an assurance level and enough to meet the growing demand.”
Finance Minister Felix Mlusu has lauded the European Investment Bank (EIB) for its continued financial support and recommencing commitment in underwriting resources for various development schemes including water projects in the country.
The Malawi government purse keeper, Mlusu, made the remarks in awake of EIB’s provision of a vital loan granted to the south-eastern landlocked country and former British protectorate.
“The Malawi Government welcomes the partnership it has with the European Investment Bank (EIB) through provision of vital financing for development projects in Malawi.
“The financing towards the TW3 under the Lilongwe Water Board has come at the right time as it will help the capital city’s water board to provide potable water to the growing urban population in Lilongwe City and surrounding areas,” said the Minister of Finance, Felix Mlusu.
With the EIB loan, city dwellers and residents of Lilongwe City and surrounding areas, are expected to benefit from an increased access to reliable and quality water services following the approval of Euro 15 million (approximately K14.4 billion) loan by the European Investment Bank (EIB) to finance the construction of an additional Water Treatment Plant for Lilongwe City.
The Government of Malawi has secured the funds, which the Lilongwe Water Board (LWB) will use to construct a third Water Treatment Plant (TW3) at its waterworks in Area 3, off Likuni road, to service current and future water demand.
It is expected that once concluded, the water production for the Lilongwe City will increase by 50,000m3 per day from the current 125,000m3 per day to 175,000m3 per day and this means, therefore, that this additional production will result in increased hours of supply from 16 hours to 24 hour a day.
Being a Capital City, Lilongwe currently faces a number of challenges related to water supply and sanitation services delivery due to dwindling water resources, lack of finances for infrastructure development, and ageing water systems. Meanwhile – LWB is implementing the Lilongwe Water Resource Efficiency Program (LWREP) through which, among others, it is rehabilitating and raising the Kamuzu Dam 1 by 7 meters, with funding from EIB, to secure water resources up until to 2025.
“The construction of TW3 is critical following the upgrading of Kamuzu Dam 1. Once completed, water production will increase to 175,000m3 per day at an assurance level of between 96 and 97 percent, this would mean that we will be able to abstract and treat an additional 50,000m3 per day which is enough to meet the growing demand,” said LWB Acting Chief Executive Officer, Silli Mbewe.
The project of the new Water Treatment Plant will also have an aspect on the efficiency improvement measures for LWB’s existing Treatment Plants and this means that Lilongwe Water Board has two existing water treatment plants (TW1 and TW2) with a combined production capacity of 125,000m3 per day.
However, on average, the plants operate at 80 percent capacity, producing an average of about 105,000m3 per day–of which about 37,800m3 per day (36 percent) is unaccounted for.
The construction of the third Water Treatment Plant will augment water production to the City’s significant supply-demand deficits.
The new Water Treatment Plant is a medium-term intervention, corresponding to the ongoing EIB-funded raising and rehabilitation of the Kamuzu Dam 1.
The Feasibility and preliminary design studies for the TW3 were already done in 2016.
Over the years, the Board has been struggling with high levels of water losses. It is estimated that 44, 000 cubic meters (44 million litres) which are equivalent to 40 percent of LWB’s daily production, is lost every day.
Apart from the recurrent occurrence of pipe bursts caused by an aged pipe infrastructure network, vandalism, and pipe damages, substantial volumes of water are being lost through various acts of water theft, specifically through illegal connections.
Illegal connections are where LWB customers and potential customers tamper with, either the water meters or the service connection, to reduce or avoid water bills; and this directly results in LWB losing revenue in under or unbilled consumptions. In other instances, customers illegally reconnect their water supply when it has been disconnected due to unpaid bills.
It is estimated that 10 percent of LWB’s 93,000 customers are involved in some form of water theft, resulting in water losses of approximately 2.2 million Cubic Meters (2 billion litres) annually.
This is equivalent revenue loss in excess of K2.4 billion- enough to rehabilitate approximately 160 Kilometers of a pipe network that would benefit over 12,000 customers.
To curtail the malpractice, LWB works with various stakeholders including communities to investigate suspected water theft cases, and impose penalties ranging between K500,000.00 to K6,000,000.00, depending on the customer category, nature of the offense, and estimated water loss.
Additionally, through the Malawi Police Service, offenders are prosecuted in a court of law since water theft is a criminal offence classified as “Fraudulent Appropriation of Water” under Section 298 (B) of the Penal Code, carrying a maximum prison sentence of five years.
Some high profile personalities have been implicated in water theft from LWB, including former Reserve Bank Governor and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential aspirant, Dr. Dalitso Kabambe whose name appeared on a list published by the LWB aimed at naming and shaming the ‘water thieves’
According to Lilongwe Water Board, between July and December 2020, Lilongwe Water Board investigated and confirmed a total of 77 water theft cases, and a total of K67.7 million was administratively charged in penalties. These cases, already in Police case files, are being prosecuted in the courts of Malawi.
In the last decade, the EIB has provided over Euro 120 million (approximately K116 billion) in financing to support various projects in Malawi and this include projects to provide access to water as well as the agri-storage facility which was signed on last year.
Lilongwe Water Board (LWB) is a utility established in 1947 and constituted as a Statutory Corporation mandated to provide water and sewerage services to the City of Lilongwe and its surrounding peri-urban areas in accordance with the Water Works Act No 17 of 1995.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :