By The Inspirer writer
Some residents in different parts of the country have been waking up at the sight of water flowing nonstop, unaccounted for as water meters, and taps, have been stolen.
On Monday, January 28, 2019, Police in Gisozi Sector in partnership with Water and Sanitation Corporation (WASAC) arrested two people suspected of stealing such pieces of equipment.
Modeste Mbabazi, the Spokesperson of Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB) told journalists on Wednesday, January 30, 2019 that their arrests followed cases filed by 20 residents in the sector who claimed that they lost their  water meters to robbers.
The cases, he said, were reported between December 2018, and January, 2019.
A 22-year old young man, whose identity is withheld in this article prior to court decision on whether he is guilty or innocent, was detained over stealing 13 water meters in about three weeks.
Standing before journalists in handcuffs, the man who said lives at Muhima, denied responsibilities in the theft, saying that it is a ‘sex worker’ — who had quarrel and fight with him as he did not pay her due money — has denounced her with false allegations to police in revenge.
But, police say the woman in question is his wife with whom he has spent three years together, and the broken meters were in house where he was residing.
RIB said that the meters are dismantled, and some parts are missing.
“Some people say that there are stolen and sold as craps to steel manufacturing factories. But, investigation is still ongoing to establish whether that assertion is true, or whether there are other destinations thwy end up, or if there are other products that are made from them,” Mbabazi said.
Callixte Kalinda, a resident of Amajyambere Village, Musezero Sector, Gisozi Sector, said he was stolen a water meter and tap laat month during night.
“Such a situation is affecting us a lot as we face water shortage, yet water is life. We have to fetch water from far and undergo the cost of transport. A single jelly can costs me Rwf140 now. You understand that if I use 10 jelly cans per day, there is a loss,” Kalinda said.
Normally, a person having a faucet at home pays Rwf340 per cubic meter —equivalent to 50 jellycans with 20 litres, each.
The cost of the initial meter is born by WASAC, but, a water subscriber has to pay for the meter in case they lose the first one, according to WASAC.
Kalinda said that the price of the meter is Rwf47,200, which he has to pay to get a new one.
“That is a lot of money. As we have no part in the theft, they (concerned institutions) should support us by giving us the meter, and pursue the culprit,” he said.
Indeed, over 70 water meters were reported to have been stolen countrywide last year (2018), figures from WASAC suggest.
Aimé Muzola, WASAC Chief Executive Officer said that hat those cases have been occurring for long and should be stopped through partnership with residence to protect the meters as they do for other pieces of equipment in their homes.
Among other measures to address the problem, he cited the installation of smart meters that don’t have copper material reportedly sought after in the old meters, adding that the new meters being introduced use technology allowing the collection of water use data without the agent reaching the subscribers’ home.
According to article 166 of the law determining offences and penalties in general enacted in 2018, any person convicted of theft is liable to imprisonment for a term of not less than one year and not more than two years and a fine of not less than Rwf1 million and not more than Rwf2 million, community service in a period of six months or only one of these penalties.
Such a penalty doubles when the theft is carried out during the night, among other aggravating circumstances.
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