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.

The Star (Kenya) - - Front Page - BY STAR TEAM @TheS­tarKenya

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’

/ EVANS OUMA

Cord leader Raila Odinga ad­dresses a press con­fer­ence out­side his of­fice on Capi­tol Hill, Nairobi, yes­ter­day

/HEZRON NJOROGE

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

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