Raila fights project he launched
Raila accuses government of responding with misleading information that he launched the same Northern Water Collector Tunnel when he was Prime Minister.
Opposition chief Raila Odinga appeared to shoot himself in the foot yesterday when he savagely opposed a Sh6.8 billion “secret Jubilee Government” water project — which he launched as Prime Minister in 2012.
Raila told a Nairobi press conference the Northern Collector Tunnel will be “disastrous” and the larger Murang’a, Garissa, Ukambani and Tana River Delta region will become desert in five years.
The World Bank project will collect water from Seven Rivers in the Aberdares and divert it to Thika’s Nda- kaini dam for use in Nairobi.
The Seven Rivers all feed the famous River Tana, source of livelihood for thousands of residents from Ukambani through Murang’a, Garissa, Tana River and the Coast.
“The effects will be compounded by the fact this project will lead to severe loss of water in Tana River, which will lead to drying up of both ground and underground rivers and streams in Garissa, Ukambani and Tana River Delta,” Raila said.
In a swift rejoinder, Water CS Eugene Wamalwa dismissed the claim, saying the project was part of Raila’s Master Plan when he was in government.
“It was alarmist for Raila to release a statement in the manner he did. All feasibility study documents are available,” Wamalwa said, adding all proper consultations were carried out.
Responding to the state’s rejoinder, Raila said he did not approve the specific project, only the Master Plan. He did not elaborate.
He said he is happy the government “has finally owned up to this project”.
Meanwhile, National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale said Raila’s assertion was a plot to divert attention from discord rocking his Cord opposition.
“Raila is saying all this because his house is burning, his coalition is in tatters,” Duale told a press conference at Parliament Buildings.
This morning Murang’a Governor Mwangi Wairia will address a press conference on the project.
The ex-PM and his think tank analysts have dug deep into the controversial project and produced a documentary film they say backs their claims.
Speaking in his Capitol Hill office, Raila said the project will have a huge negative impact on hydro generating power because of reduced water flowing into four dams.
They are Masinga, Kamburu, Gita-
ru, Kindaruma and Kiambere.
“In Murang’a four hydro power stations on Maragua River, known as the Wanji and Mesco project operated by KENGEN and five private generating stations, shall become completely unavailable with this project,” Raila said.
The opposition chief said in Murang’a alone, 77 species of aquatic life, including seven fish species, are likely to become extinct.
“Jubilee is so secretive about this project that it does not appear anywhere in the administration’s list of achievements. The same Jubilee that has made it a common practice to commission projects commissioned by the Grand Coalition government to look productive has chosen not to “launch” this project,” Raila said.
It was designed, commissioned and construction commenced before any environmental impact assessment was done, he said.
No license had been issued by the National Environmental Management Authority by the time the project started, he said.
“Jubilee conceptualised, commissioned and commenced construction without establishing its impact on the environment. This is unconstitutional, criminal, a blatant abuse of power and a grievous derogation of the rights of affected people,” Raila said.
Shortly after Raila’s announcement, information appeared to suggest Raila launched the project-Master Plan on September 18, 2012. Raila was PM, Charity Ngilu was Water minister.
At that time, Raila said these investments will ensure Kenya’s water security is not compromised by degradation of water resources, climate variability and climate change.
Duale added, “He [Raila] has cheated Kalonzo for too long and he wants to cheat him that the flagbearer be named in March. But Kalonzo has refused. Raila, in his usual way of peddling propaganda, wants to divert public attention for his followers and other Kenyans to the noble biggest water project.”
Wamalwa said the project was in the Nairobi Master Plan launched by Raila .
However, Raila’s spokesman Dennis Onyango came out guns blazing and accused Jubilee of distorting the narrative. He said the possibility of tapping water from the Aberdares depended on conducting an Environmental Impact Assessment.
“Jubilee has jumped the gun, dumped anything to do with dams, ignored the idea of boreholes, implemented what was to be last as the first, did it without an EIA, ignored the environment report when it came out and proceeded to more than double the cost,” Onyango said.
Raila screened a documentary film he said showed why the project is catastrophic and urged Uhuru to halt it immediately, pending a comprehensive audit of all environmental concerns. Raila’s claims are not new. Various Murang’a leaders, including Senator Kembi Gitura and assembly speaker Nduati Kariuki have expressed concern the project would be an environmental disaster.
In July last year, the High Court halted the project by Chinese contractors.
However, the order was lifted, opposition voices have been drowned out.
Yesterday Raila said Environment minister John Michuki had strongly opposed the project and had pledged, “You will only construct these mole tunnels over my dead body.”
Yesterday, Duale said Raila is also trashing the project because he is not getting the 10 per cent commission agreed with the contractor.
“To come out today, four years after you launched a project and say it’s going to cause desertification, and smear the World Bank is irresponsible. It shows what Raila is known for — peddling lies, rumours for cheap political gains. This project is a baby that Raila started and Uhuru was not President,” he said.
‘TO COME OUT TODAY, FOUR YEARS AFTER YOU LAUNCHED A PROJECT AND SAY IT’S GOING TO CAUSE DESERTIFICATION. AND SMEAR THE WORLD BANK IS IRRESPONSIBLE. IT SHOWS WHAT RAILA IS KNOWN FOR — PEDDLING LIES, RUMOURS FOR CHEAP POLITICAL GAINS. THIS PROJECT IS A BABY THAT RAILA STARTED AND UHURU WAS NOT PRESIDENT’
National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale during a media briefing at Parliament Buildings where he dismissed Raila Odinga’s allegations that the government was involved in an illegal water diversion project in Murang’a
Cord leader Raila Odinga addresses a press conference outside his office on Capitol Hill, Nairobi, yesterday