The Dar es Salaam Water and Sewerage Company (Dawasco) in collaboration with the Ministry of Water and police yesterday arrested eight people for illegal water connections in a crackdown carried out at Kibamba Mji Mpya in the city.
Several other people involved in the malpractice were reported to have fled their homes for fear of being caught.
The suspects were found to have illegally connected one-inch diameter pipes to their homes against the law which requires them to be connected to pipes with three-quarter inch diameter.
The operation also discovered that some people were found connected to five pipe lines which enable them to supply water for sale at a cost of between 200,000/- and 300,000/- depending on the distance.
Yesterday’s operation added the number of people so far arrested for the same offence to 88 since the exercise started early this year.
A public relations officer with Dawasco, Teddy Mlengu, said yesterday that out of 80 people arrested in the previous operations, six of them have already been sentenced to six months imprisonment while cases of the remaining 74 suspects are pending in court.
The crackdown has found that most residents of the inspected areas were benefiting from free water services without having water meters registered by Dawasco.
While some were found illegally connected to the water service, those found with metres had tampered with the gadgets to conceal records of water consumption.
Dawasco Kibaha Zone manager Robert Mugabe said that illegal water connection has triggered public complaints from consumers who claim of being denied the basic social service.
He said Dawasco has been losing millions of shillings through the criminal act.
“A lot of customers legally connected to our services have been flooding our offices for missing the service complaining of illegal connections,” he said.
Recently, Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner Said Meck Sadick directed the water utility firm to co-operate with the police in arresting and prosecuting people involved in water stealing.
The operation started in February at Magomeni in Kinondoni District, an area said to be notorious in water theft. “We have no option but to punish those behind water stealing for their own benefits,” Sadick said.
According to Sadick, the city water firm loses a staggering 2bn/- per month through water theft.
Meanwhile, the Dar es Salaam Water and Sewerage Company (Dawasco) has started registering dealers of water trucks (bowsers) to ensure that their business is conducted legally.
The move follows a one-month order issued in February this year by Water minister Prof Jumanne Maghembe, which requires owners of trucks delivering water services to register and acquire licenses for their business to enable the Dar es Salaam Water and Sewerage Authority (Dawasa) identify them.
Another Dawasco public relations officer, Everlasting Lyaro, said that water vendors in Dar es Salaam and Coast regions have been selling the precious liquid illegally, thus denying government of its revenue.
Of late, Dawasco has been receiving a flood of complaints from the public accusing unauthorised dealers of selling unsafe and dirty drinking water.
“After the registration of water traders, it would be easier for the authority to assign every truck to a special area instead of the current system whereby these vehicles operate anywhere,” Lyaro said.
“People who buy water from bowsers will be able to get the service in nearby places instead of calling a truck far-off,” she added.
She said registration of the bowsers will enable government, Dawasco and the Dar es Salaam City Council get revenue since water dealers will be forced to pay tax.
“Water dealers have been evading tax at the same time making super profits for operating illegally. Now we want to put this business in the perspective by ensuring it is conducted legally,” she noted.
The registration of water dealers will ensure that the precious liquid sold to the public is clean and safe, Lyaro explained.
On February this year, Water minister Prof Maghembe issued a month’s deadline for owners of trucks delivering water services to register and acquire licenses for their business.
“This business should be carried out in a proper manner in which dealers must register with the concerned water authorities,” he said.
He said the government had an agreement with the Energy and Water Utilities Regulatory Authority (Ewura) in controlling water prices. Currently, Dar es Salaam resident pay up to 500/- per a 20-litre bucket of water instead of the official price of 300/- per bucket.