, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 14 – The Athi Water Services Board has sought to allay fears brought about by the construction of the Northern Water Collector Tunnel in Murang’a saying those disgruntled should seek for more information on the project.
While making reference to the remarks by CORD leader Raila Odinga on the impact of the construction, Board Chairman Wachira Keen on Friday stated that mitigation measures have been put in place to curtail any potential threats.
He further emphasised that there is no need for another Environmental Impact Assessment to be done and invited the former Prime Minister and other members of the public to visit the site of the project to see its feasibility.
“I would like to re-assure Kenyans that the Water Master Plan is a development blue print that does not only promise to meet the water needs of the residents of Nairobi and satellite towns, but also goes towards the realization of Kenya’s Vision 2030 objective of being a middle income economy that guarantees its citizens a quality of life in a secure environment,” he stated.
He stressed that the institution is committed towards increasing its availability and ensuring access of safe water to all consumers.
“At this age of global warming and inconsistent weather patterns we cannot afford to resist innovation. By properly utilizing the research tools in our possession we could help promote development and encourage a wave of innovation and investment towards improved water and sanitation services,” he said.
He pointed out that time and resources have been committed towards the development and implementation of the Water Supply Master Plan and the Northern Water Collector Tunnel.
“The Water Supply Master Plan addresses the short, medium and long-term development needs for the City and Satellite towns, and further defines a priority strategy to meet the 2017 water demand.”
He explained that the solution proposed involves conjunctive utilization of ground water and surface water sources, inter-basin transfers, and water conservation and demand management efforts.
“They are based on least cost alternatives that have integrated economic, technical, environmental and social considerations. The Water Master Plan has five phases to be implemented at different periods within the planning horizon of up to year 2035,” he said.
He stated that the current NCT Phase I project will contribute to long term improvement of water service delivery to Nairobi and Metropolitan areas.
His sentiments were echoed by Chief Executive Officer Malaquen Milgo who stated that the project shall neither result in low river flows nor divert water during low river flow seasons.
“For us at Athi Water we believe that a good quality of life depends on having access to safe and sustainable water and sanitation supply for our communities, the environment and overall economic well-being. We are committed to the intelligent development of safe water and sanitation systems for the benefit of Kenya, now and in the future,” he said.
He urged all partners and stakeholders to support the implementation of the NCT1 and other subsequent projects to be implemented under the Nairobi Water Master plan.
“With a daily focus on our communities, environment and economy, we are making a difference in people’s lives, improving wellness, health and prosperity through the provision of sustainable water and sanitation systems. We are transforming Life. We are inspiring progress,” he stated.
The Murang’a County Assembly had stated that it approved the project when it passed a report tabled before it after changes were made to the development.
In a statement published in the local dailies, Speaker Nduati Kariuki indicated that the Assembly was given the assurance that the normal water level of Murang’a rivers would not be affected.
Kariuki indicated that it was also agreed that the project would bring tangible benefits to the people in the county while the environment department would be allocated more money to cater for the conservation of catchment areas.
He called on all political leaders and stakeholders to ensure that the stipulated conditions are adhered to during the implementation of the project.
CORD leader Raila Odinga had called on President Uhuru Kenyatta to halt the construction citing environmental concerns.
Odinga said that the construction of the project at the Aberdare Hill region is being undertaken without proper public participation.
He noted that former Environment and Natural Resources Minister, the late John Michuki had raised objection to the project just before he died. He is reported to have spoken to the people of Kanyanyaini Location in Kangema Constituency where he said: “You will only construct these tunnels over my dead body.”
The Opposition leader said he had taken up the issue after a section of Murang’a County residents petitioned him.
The government however dismissed the claims with National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale, Water and Irrigation Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa and the Government Spokesman Eric Kiraithe accusing him of malice and engaging in what they termed as incitement.