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Poor sewerage irks Kisumu investors

Developments put up in areas earmarked for sewer lines will be demolished once plans to upgrade the effluent system takes off, says city manager

The growth of the real estate sector in Kisumu town over the last decade has put its sewerage systems under intense pressure, frustrating developers in the region.

The lakeside city has recently witnessed a steady growth in the property sector, with several new developments coming up, especially on the outskirts, which are attracting investors.

The latest developments in the town include new residential apartments located far from the Central Business District (CBD). Property developers in the town now want an expansion of the sewer lines to take care of the rapid developments taking place to ensure proper sanitation and boost construction.

Septic tanks

Building and construction sector players who spoke to Boma,
regretted that  most of the areas where new developments have lately sprung up are not covered by the main sewer lines. “An upgrade of the sewerage infrastructure will attract more investors to the town specifically in areas where new apartments are coming up,” says  Lake Estate Agency Limited director, Nishma Karia.

She says connecting the developing estates to the main sewer lines would save prospective developers from the cost of sewer disposal and improve on sanitation. Karia also urges the county government to improve on infrastructure, security in terms of street lighting and water supply.

“There is an urgent need for the county government to address this problem because sanitation is a key determinant in putting up buildings for human habitation,” says Karia.

Michigen Investment Company Limited director George Nyagowa concurs. He cites Mamboleo, Riat, Otonglo, Kanyakwar, Nyamasaria, Migosi areas and parts of Dunga —which are flooded with new developments— as the worst hit.

Nyagowa regrets that the developers are forced to spend more in installation and draining septic tanks, which is expensive and  inconvenient. Consequently, the cost of building residential houses in such localities is considerably high as the developers have to conspicuously cater for what is spent in establishment and maintenance of the septic tanks.

Michigen Investment Company director George Nyagowa says developers are forced to put up septic tanks. PhotoDANIEL OGENDO

“Lack of the sewer lines also becomes a challenge to tenants when the septic tanks overflow and are not drained in time.

We are asking the county government to look into the strategies of expanding the sewerage system as this would add value to property investments,” said Nyagowa.


Kisumu city manager Doris Ombara blames initial development plans by the defunct municipal council for imbalanced sewerage system in the town. Ombara says because of the poor workmanship by the previous city administration, several buildings were constructed on sewer lines, a situation which has hampered the efforts to expand them or even establish new lines.

“From our assessment of the city planning, we realise that developers have encroached on sewer lines, making it difficult to come up with a proper plan to reconstruct them,” she says.

The city management now plans  to streamline its planning with a view to improving on the sewerage connections. Developments put up in areas earmarked for sewer lines will be demolished once plans to upgrade the sewerage system takes off. 

“Due to its rapid growth, it is necessary for the Kisumu city’s sewer coverage to be expanded and properly maintained to serve the rising populace,” Ombara says.

She said a local detailed urban physical plan project estimated to cost Sh230 million supported by the French government will help control developments within the city, including ensuring creation of adequate space for additional sewer lines installation.

“The bottom line is to have a more efficient service delivery for the citizenry in areas of security, safety and development,” she says.

Sewage plant

Plans are underway to construct a Sh800 million sewage treatment plant as Kisumu seeks to improve water and sanitation services. Lake Victoria South Water Services Board Chief Manager for Technical Services,  Sammy Mburu, told the media recently that the town’s sewage treatment plant, originally constructed in 1958, was designed to handle a capacity of 2,270 cubic metres daily.

This comes even as Kisumu county Assembly recently passed a motion proposing realignment of sewer lines within the town. The motion sponsored by Kaloleni/Shaurimoyo MCA Prisca Misachi tasked relevant departments such as the city management, Kisumu Water and Sewerage Company (Kiwasco), public health and county physical planning to come up with a strategy to rehabilitate and realign the sewer lines.

Members of the County Assembly have also called for an extension of the sewerage system to cater for the growing development and population. “We want to see total realignment to the sewer lines because they are overstretched and cannot sufficiently serve the intended purpose,” said Misachi.

According to Kiwasco Managing Director Thomas Odongo, Kisumu town’s sewer coverage currently stands at 16 per cent. Estates such as Nyalenda, Manyatta, Kanyamedha, Lolwe, Nyawita, parts of Milimani and Mamboleo are missing sewer lines.

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