NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 13 – The Murang’a County Assembly says it approved the Northern Water Collector Tunnel 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.
“We were given the assurance that ground water levels of Murang’a are not affected and the boreholes in the County are secured. We also wanted the irrigation and other water programmes planned for and envisioned for Murang’a are not negatively affected,” he stated.
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.
“That a monitoring committee to be established comprising of County Executive Committee member in charge of water and the Chair of the Northern Collector Tunnel Technical Committee to supervise the implementation of the project,” he said.
He called on all political leaders and stakeholders to ensure that the stipulated conditions are adhered to during the implementation of the project.
“We wish to state that the Assembly and the committee of experts appointed to advice on the project will continue to monitor its implementation and ensure it agrees with all the conditions agreed upon all parties,” he pointed out.
“The Assembly calls upon all Murang’a political leaders and stakeholders to be vigilant during the implementation of the project to see that the conditions agreed upon are adhered to.”
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.
Wamalwa said “the former PM might be suffering from selective amnesia” as he produced documents and newspaper cuttings as proof that Odinga launched the Sh6.8 billion project in September 2012.
He also termed allegations by Odinga claiming that the First Family has commercial interests in the project which is also known as Northern Collector Tunnel as “a big lie.”
They also produced copies of an Environmental Impact Assessment, National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) Licence to further discount allegations by the former PM that the concerns of the public and Murang’a County Assembly were not addressed.