Complete water projects, says MPs

Friday January 12 2018

Murang'a leaders

Maragua MP Mary Wamaua Njoroge (left) chats with Joseph Kamau of the Athi Water Services Board at Panafric hotel in Nairobi on January 11, 2017 during a round table meeting for Murang'a leaders and board officials to discuss water supply interventions for Murang'a and Nairobi counties. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP  

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Elected leaders in Murang’a County want all ongoing water projects in the county completed on time before the abstraction of any water from rivers by the Northern Collector Tunnel.

The MPs say the water needs for county residents should not be overlooked as the construction of the tunnel which is meant to boost water supply to Nairobi progresses.

NCL, once a controversial project, will increase the commodity’s supply to Nairobi by 140 million cubic metres daily. The city receives 580,000 cubic metres of water daily against a projected demand of 750,000 cubic metres.

The legislators met senior officials of the Athi Water Services Board (AWSB) at a consultative forum in Nairobi on Thursday.

The Sh6.8 billion project is designed to draw flood flows from Irati, Gikigie and Maragua rivers in Murang’a County and channel them through an 11-kilometre tunnel to Ndaka-ini Dam, the source of Nairobi’s water.

AWSB acting CEO Michael Thuita and head of planning and engineering Joseph Kamau met MPs Peter Kimari (Mathioya), Ndindi Nyoro (Kiharu), Ruth Mwaniki (Kigumo), Mary Wamaua (Maragua) and Alice Wahome (Kandara).

Others were Gatanga’s Joseph Nduati, Senator Irungu Kang’ata and Woman Representative Sabina Chege.

Water Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa who was to attend did not turn up.

The legislators agreed that all projects lined up, a majority of which are funded by the World Bank should be expedited for the benefit of the locals.

“We are also asking water companies to review charges imposed on the locals. We cannot provide water for other counties and still charge residents exorbitant prices,” Mr Kimari said.

Ms Wahome raised concerns over the accountability and capability of some of the contractors to deliver on the different projects in the constituencies.

These include the Ithanga, Gatanga, Murang’a, Kayahwe, Gatango, Ichichi/Kiruri and Makomboki community projects.

The MP lamented that there was little progress on some of the projects saying CS Wamalwa should address some of the challenges raised.

“In Kandara for instance, we have a contractor we don’t know when he will commence work. How does Athi water want to participate in such a project without my knowledge? We are demanding more engagements with the elected leaders in the execution of the projects,” Ms Wahome said.

MP Nyoro also delved into the matter saying once complete, projects should be immediately handed over to the community for use.

Mr Nduati said despite his constituency hosting Nairobi’s source of water, Ndakaini Dam, some locals still do not have access to clean drinking water.

Ithanga water supply in Gatanga expected to benefit close to 200,000 people is at 10 percent completion and will be commissioned in July 2019.

“We will be making site visits to ensure the construction is expedited for the benefit of tour people,” he announced.

Eary last year, the World Bank began a probe into complaints about environmental and social impacts of building the water tunnel, lodged by residents of Murang’a County.

The group’s Washington based inspection panel investigates complaints on projects funded by the International Development Association (IDA) and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) which are funding arms of World Bank.

The National Environmental Tribunal and the High Court were also involved in the matter after one Joseph Mwangi Kuria in March 2015 moved to the tribunal seeking to have the project suspended for not following the laid-down procedures.

But Athi Water Services contested the move saying a National Environment Authority (Nema) licence had already been issued and therefore the issue could only be decided by a court.

Athi Water Services, in a case before Justice George Odunga, submitted that Mr Kuria had never objected to the issuing of the Nema licence to the applicants as provided for in law.

At the High Court, Athi Water said it would incur huge daily contractual costs if the project is suspended.

The judge found that the tribunal lacked jurisdiction to entertain the appeal and threw it out.

The board announced it has develop a water master plan for the county. AWSB Engineer Kamau said the project is 30 percent complete and is to be done by December next year.