Sh6.8bn wa­ter project may be ‘white ele­phant’

‘There is no way the river can be in per­pet­ual mode to fill the dam un­less there are reser­voirs set up around it’

The Star (Kenya) - - News - SA­MUEL KISIKA @KisikaSam

MPs yes­ter­day dis­puted the sus­tain­abil­ity of the con­tro­ver­sial Sh6.8 bil­lion North­ern Wa­ter Col­lec­tor Tun­nel project, say­ing tax­pay­ers’ money could go to waste.

The Na­tional Assem­bly Com­mit­tee on En­vi­ron­ment and Nat­u­ral Re­sources chaired by Amina Ab­dalla put to task Wa­ter CS Eu­gene Wa­malwa.

He was with min­istry of­fi­cials and Athi Wa­ter Services Board CEO Malaquen Milgo.

They were asked to iden­tify the tun­nel’s long-term wa­ter source, say­ing it should not rely on sea­sonal river flood­ing and over­flow.

The MPs said the tun­nel that solely de­pends on flood­ing will be dry and un­pro­duc­tive dur­ing dry sea­sons.

The Ju­bilee ad­min­is­tra­tion project aims to sup­ply wa­ter to Nairobi and the cap­i­tal re­gion.

It was first men­tioned in a mas­ter plan when op­po­si­tion chief Raila Odinga was Prime Min­is­ter. A fea­si­bil­ity study was called for. Raila now calls it “tun­nels of death”.

The com­mit­tee warned that the at­tempt to tap wa­ter from the Mar­gua, Irati and Gikigie rivers could make parts of Mu­rang’a county dry.

Emuhaya MP Wil­bur Otichilo said, “We are build­ing a white ele­phant by de­pend­ing on river over­flows to fill the tun­nel. There is no way the river can be in per­pet­ual mode to fill the dam un­less there are reser­voirs set up around it.

“The min­istry should ex­plain the de­signed wa­ter sup­ply sys­tem.”

Milgo said, “We are not build­ing a white ele­phant. We are tar­get­ing flood­ing. We have data and know the vol­ume of wa­ter the rivers hold un­der nor­mal flow.”

He said 40 per cent of flood­ing would be drained into the dam. The re­served wa­ter would then be poured into Ndakaini dam af­ter the flood­ing and supplied to Nairobi.

Ab­dalla de­manded Wa­malwa fur­nish the com­mit­tee with sat­is­fac­tory en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact mit­i­ga­tion on the project af­ter it emerged his sub­mis­sion con­tained con­tra­dic­tory find­ings.

/HEZRON NJOROGE

Wa­ter CS Eu­gene Wa­malwa be­fore the Na­tional Assem­bly En­vi­ron­ment Com­mit­tee prob­ing the North­ern Wa­ter Col­lec­tor Tun­nel project yes­ter­day

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