‘SECRET PROJECT’ POLITICISED
In the past one week, there has been an ongoing conversation on the construction of the Northern Water Collector Tunnel project in Murang’a county. A lot of politicking has followed, distracting the focus from facts in this project. This water project was conceptualised in 2007, when the World Bank agreed to fund it. It, however, didn’t start until March this year, because of tussles between the leadership of Murang’a and the Athi Water and Sewerage Company, which is implementing the project.
The project is part of Vision 2030 and is supposed to help improve water sustainability in the Murang’a, Kiambu and Nairobi counties. This will help solve perennial water shortage facing the three counties, for both domestic and industrial use.
Today, the population growth, especially in Nairobi and Kiambu, has resulted in an acute and persistent water shortage, despite it being one of the most important commodities in life. It is in line with this that authorities have been working hard, over the past 10 years, to develop sustainable solutions to help solve the persistent problem.
There are a lot of facts about this project being lost in the ongoing political talk, especially after opposition leader Raila Odinga joined in the fray.
While Raila might have done this for political reasons, it is important that those countering his argument don’t politicise this issue.
There have been claims that the project has been secret. The truth is that all the steps have been documented, including public consultations, which some have claimed never happened. Documents by both the government and the World Bank show a good number of public consultation meetings were held as recently as last year.
It is through these consultations that the people of Murang’a demanded local water projects be done as part of the larger project. Some projects benefitting the county are - Murang’a water supply and the Gatanga water supply.
These projects were a result of consultations between Athi Water, the ministry of Water, the World Bank, the county government of Murang’a, the Murang’a county assembly and residents.
In addition to the water projects, documents show there are a number of roads in Murang’a that will benefit from the project. A number of jobs will also be created for the locals.The tunnels, it was explained and documents show, will only collect water when rivers go beyond the normal level as a result of flooding. This means the rivers will not be drained.
This also negates the claim that the project is a conspiracy to turn some parts of the country into a desert.
As long as experts have said this is impossible, politicians should be careful not to incite the public against a project that will eventually help solve the water shortage problem.
Why I insist on experts is because they can tell us, through research, what kind of impacts to expect from the project. They can also tell us if the project is still viable in dealing with the water shortage that faces the three counties. Those who were tasked by the World Bank to conduct the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment should come out and explain these issues. The World Bank, which came on board almost 10 years ago, should also come out and explain the rationale behind the project.
This is the only way we will have a sober conversation on the project without unnecessary sideshows among politicians. Politicians are not necessarily experts and should, therefore, not be allowed to guide conversations on such an important matter such as the use of natural resources.
IT IS THROUGH THESE CONSULTATIONS THAT THE PEOPLE OF MURANG’A DEMANDED LOCAL WATER PROJECTS BE INCLUDED IN THE LARGER PROJECT