Murang’a leaders list demands as activists seek to halt Sh6.8bn water project

October 17, 2016 7:57 pm
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Omtatah together with Florence Kanyua have sued the Athi Water Services Board (AWSB) and several of its officers over the alleged irregular tender award of the project to China State Corporation Limited/FILE
Omtatah together with Florence Kanyua have sued the Athi Water Services Board (AWSB) and several of its officers over the alleged irregular tender award of the project to China State Corporation Limited/FILE

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 17 – The government on Monday intensified its campaign to secure support for the Sh6.8 billion Northern Connection Tunnel by meeting leaders from Murang’a County.

This took place as human rights activist Okiya Omtatah moved to court seeking to suspend the multi-billion bulk water contract supply to Nairobi.

Overview
  • This took place as human rights activist Okiya Omtatah moved to court seeking to suspend the multi-billion bulk water contract supply to Nairobi.
  • Omtatah together with Florence Kanyua have sued the Athi Water Services Board (AWSB) and several of its officers over the alleged irregular tender award of the project to China State Corporation Limited.
  • The duo allege that the contract was signed by the Board's CEO at a time when he was on leave, and that there are no records in place to track how the contract was awarded.

Omtatah together with Florence Kanyua have sued the Athi Water Services Board (AWSB) and several of its officers over the alleged irregular tender award of the project to China State Corporation Limited.

The duo allege that the contract was signed by the Board’s CEO at a time when he was on leave, and that there are no records in place to track how the contract was awarded.

Judge Joseph Onguto certified the case as urgent and directed parties to appear in court on Wednesday next week for further directions.

Meanwhile, Murang’a County leaders who included Senate Deputy Speaker Kembi Gitura, Murang’a Governor Mwangi wa Iria and Kandara MP Alice Wahome took advantage of the stakeholders’ meeting called by Water and Irrigation Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa to demand assurances on how Murang’a residents will benefit from the project that is meant to boost water supply to Nairobi.

“I am unwilling to do PR, unless Waziri, this meeting secures an arrangement of how we shall have sufficient funding, because if we do not get it now to give the people of Murang’a enough water I do not think there is a possibility of us getting another opportunity. This is a golden opportunity because the CS wants his project to move on,” MP Wahome told the meeting.

Irungu Kang’ata (Kiharu), Humphrey Njuguna (Gatanga), and Murang’a County Assembly Speaker Nduati Kariuki vowed to sponsor a water resource sharing law that would see Nairobi remit Sh5 per litre of water pumped from the county daily.

The meeting also resolved to re-introduce an amendment to the recently enacted Water Act to compel the Water Resource Management Authority (WRMA) to share 50 percent of the levies it collects from Nairobi for water pumped from Ndaka-ini Dam.

Kigumo MP Jamleck Kamau, in whose constituency the water tunnel passes, said residents must benefit from the mega project.

“We had a bitter experience when Ndaka-ini was built and we would not want this particular project to go that direction, and for it to come to Nairobi the people of Murang’a must benefit as well,” Kamau said.

The leaders demanded to have a meeting with President Uhuru Kenyatta to iron out some the concerns before they can endorse the project.

“I think this group here, we be taken and talk to the President and we tell him we love him and we shall counter Raila Odinga. As people of Murang’a we cannot act as suicide bombers, who kill everyone and then kill themselves. For as we are only interested in certain issues and once those issues are sorted out we say Jubilee Tosha na Tuko Pamoja,” Kang’ata said.

In his response, Wamalwa committed to arranging the State House meeting as well as pledging Sh250 million to five water companies in the county to go towards piping to facilitate easy distribution of the water.

“There are several legislators in Murang’a who had concerns over the project, and we have listened to them. We will continue engaging with them to ensure a better understanding of what the project is about,” he assured.

The CS added: “We have a water master plan for the entire Murang’a County with Sh50 million set aside to ensure the county resources are operational o now and generations to come.”

Wamalwa revealed that Kisumu will be the only urban centre to be water secure by 2032.

He said the government is ready to launch the project, and also the development of an irrigation master plan by 2018 to improve agriculture in the county.

“There is nothing sinister about the water project, like I said this is not a Nairobi project or a Murang’a project or a Jubilee Project or a CORD project; this is a Vision 2030 project. It is through these projects that Kenya will realise Vision 2030, otherwise it would just remain a beautiful document that would not translate to reality,” he emphasised explaining that under Article 23 of the Constitution, every Kenyan has a right to access water.

The water project is designed to draw flood flows from Maragua rivers in Murang’a County and channel the same through an 11 kilometre tunnel to Ndaka-ini Dam, the source of Nairobi’s water.

A report by the Technical Committee commissioned by Murang’a leaders on the Northern Collector Tunnel Project raised some red flags.

The Cabinet Secretary cautioned leaders from the coast region against politicising the project saying it doing so would only polarise the country.

“I want to urge governors and leaders of counties in the Tana basin to desist from inciting the public. I will head to the Coast to engage them as well to ensure better understanding,” he said.

CORD leader Raila Odinga last week called for its suspension until the environmental concerns raised are addressed.

The former Prime Minister claimed that the project would turn Ukambani, Murang’a, Garissa, and Tana River regions to desert land five years after its launch.

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