Government directed to settle Sh26 billion owed to Ruwasa

What you need to know:

  • The accumulated debt from outstanding water bills has crippled the operations of the water utility

Dar es Salaam. Parliament has instructed the government to clear a Sh26 billion debt owed to the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (Ruwasa) to facilitate the enhancement of its public service operations.

The Parliamentary Committee for Water and Environment made the statement on Friday, February 9, 2024, during the presentation of its 2023 activity report.

The committee said that the accumulated debt from outstanding water bills has crippled the operations of the water utility.

"The prolonged non-payment of bills has significantly impeded the authority’s ability to deliver timely and efficient services to the public,” said committee chairman, Mr Jackson Kiswaga.

He further recommended that water authorities receive full disbursement of Parliament-approved funds to ensure seamless and effective implementation of development projects.

Mr Kiswaga highlighted the critical shortage of water storage infrastructure, particularly dams, faced by the Wami/Ruvu Water Basin Board, despite its 3.1 percent contribution to the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in agriculture, industry, livestock, and mining sectors.

“Parliament has resolved that the government should allocate sufficient funds for the research and construction of water storage infrastructure and continue educating citizens on the importance of preserving water sources by discouraging activities such as animal grazing and bushfires,” he added.

Regarding delayed permits for water projects in 28 towns, the committee directed the Ministry of Water to collaborate with relevant authorities to ensure timely issuance.

Moreover, the ministry was urged to ensure adherence to contractual agreements in project implementation, emphasising timely completion to ensure citizens benefit from clean and safe water.

Mr Kiswaga attributed the delay in completing water projects to funding shortages, calling upon the government to prioritise the immediate completion of existing ventures over initiating new ones.

“Once wells are drilled, the government must ensure the swift distribution of clean and safe water to address water challenges faced by Tanzanians,” he emphasised.

The committee also urged the government to monitor the utilisation of 25 drilling machines distributed across regions to ensure the realisation of its objectives.

It further advised conducting a detailed assessment to identify cities with severe water shortages and prioritise areas for well drilling programmes.

“Efforts should be made to utilise drilling equipment in neighbouring regions to maximise well drilling instead of relying solely on machines allocated to each region,” Mr Kiswaga suggested.

Regarding sewage infrastructure strengthening, the committee emphasised the risk of epidemics due to poor development in cities and towns, urging the government to allocate funds for nationwide construction and management of sewage infrastructure.

Mr Kiswaga also encouraged increased private sector involvement in sewage service provision and the development of robust sewage systems in new city areas to control pollution and attract investment.

“The government should devise a long-term, sustainable solution to improve access to clean and safe water in Dodoma, Singida, and other regions facing severe water challenges,” he concluded.