The government Monday formed a specialized police unit to curb the rising cases of vandalism and theft of the country’s water supply and sanitation infrastructure.
The Water Police Unit (WPU) will comprise officers drawn from the Administration Police Service and will be integrated into the Critical Infrastructure Protection Unit (CIPU).
To actualize the move, Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki announced the immediate resignation of state water management and supply under the category of critical infrastructure sectors.
“Effective this month, water infrastructure, and water reservoirs as part of critical infrastructure that falls under the Protected Areas Act (Cap. 204), which provides for procedures of removal of persons who might be found in those places without authorization,” he said.
This warrants special protection of all storage and supply assets, systems, and networks owned and operated by the eight Water Works Development Agencies (WWDAs) across the country.
Kindiki disclosed numerous failed attacks targeted at water facilities and attempts by criminals seeking to access the infrastructure, which informed the decision to establish a dedicated team to guard against any compromise on the safety and supply to consumers.
The CS, who was flanked by Principal Secretaries Dr. Raymond Omollo (Internal Security), Paul Rono (Water and Sanitation), and Deputy Inspector General Noor Gabow, also expressed concerns that the country would be plunged into untold crisis if malicious people gained access into such sensitive utilities.
“We have had attempts by criminals who want to vandalize this infrastructure for economic reasons, but we have also had attempts by those who would have wanted to access these critical resources and critical infrastructure to attack our country’s security.”
The unit has also been tasked to rein in illegal pipeline connections and siphoning off water from pipelines and storage facilities, a trend that has dealt various national water and sanitation agencies a major financial setback.
According to Rono, the government has been losing close to Sh10.6 billion every year due to non-revenue water.
He further noted that these losses are directly related to the destruction of the water infrastructure, non-payment of water bills, and wrong metering.
“We’ve been doing an analysis of the amount of money the government is losing every year because of non-revenue water. And to address this issue, there is a need to see the associated components, one of it being the destruction of the infrastructure and another one is related to the commercial issues,” PS Rono said.
Rono noted that the establishment of the unit will go a long way in advancing the government’s socio-economic transformation agenda through the delivery of more water and irrigation projects across the country.
“With the current plans by the government to invest in close to 1,000 dams and boreholes, there is a need to make sure that all this infrastructure, including irrigation infrastructure, is protected.”
The enactment of the Water Act 2016 devolved national water supply and sanitation services to the county governments, which run their own Water Service Providers (WSPs).
Under this framework, the providers who bank on the eight Water Works Development Agencies (WWDAs) to deliver on their mandates, and avert the disturbing destruction of pipelines, water pumps, tanks, valves and wastewater manholes among other infrastructure, will enhance the steady and safe supply of this precious commodity.
More than 350 officers will be deployed to the unit.
APS is now a specialized unit that includes border patrols, guarding critical infrastructure and dealing with stock theft.
Under the new structure, the APS has formed units that include the Special Weapons and Tactics team, the Camel Unit, Rapid Deployment Unit, Border Police Unit, APS Stock Theft Prevention Unit and Critical Infrastructure Protection Unit.