NORTHERN COLLECTOR TUNNEL IS NOT NAIROBI WATER MASTER PLAN:
The Jubilee Government has finally owned up to the existence of the Northern Collector Tunnel that it has never listed either as its achievement or its plan for the country including during the State of the Nation addresses by the President and briefings by the members of the Cabinet that have preceded the President’s State of the Nation address since 2014. That veil of secrecy has finally been lifted. But it still needs to be explained.
The owning up has however come with the caveat that the project was launched by Hon. Raila Odinga in 2012. That is a lie. Hon Raila Odinga launched the Nairobi Water Master Plan and not anything called the Northern Collector Tunnel. The Master Plan was to be implemented in phases, with several in-built precautions. It was to begin with sinking wells in Kiunyu and Ruiru areas, which was expected to increase water supply by 64,800 cubic metres per day. This has not been done.
There was to be a Sh4 billion sewerage expansion plan, which was expected to be completed by 2014 to ensure that the city’s water security is not compromised by degradation of water resources, climate variability and climate change and ensure Nairobi’s capacity to absorb more water. This has not happened. The government was also to build dams in Maragua and Ndarugu dams, among other places while the government weighed other options. This too has not been done.
The construction of a tunnel diverting Irati, Gikigie and Maragua rivers was to be considered as a last resort, and subject to findings of feasibility studies and Environmental Impact Assessment. In the current case, as Hon Raila stated a while ago, the diversion of the rivers has started; designed, commissioned and construction commenced before an Environmental Impact Assessment report was prepared and before a license was issued by the National Environment Management Authority.
The project had been designed by end of the year 2013, the tender for a contractor was published in March 2014 and an agreement signed with the contractor on 1st September 2014. A payment of Kshs. 1,365,127,934.56 was also paid to the contractor in October. But the terms of reference for the conduct of the Environmental Impact Assessment were not approved till July 2014 and the EIA report was not approved till November 2014. The License by NEMA was not issued until February 2015 well after the contract had been signed and payment made. Hon Raila Odinga had long left the government when all these illegalities were being committed.
Besides, Hon John Michuki, who was the environment minister at the time the Master Plan was unveiled, vehemently opposed this project and the grand coalition government agreed to defer to him in his capacity as the responsible minister, pending further consultations.
To say the Northern Collector Tunnel is Hon Raila Odinga’s project is a lie and refusal to take responsibility. It also does not answer the issues raised: Where is the public consultation? Where are the hydrological surveys? Why has this project proceeded in secrecy for two years until today? These questions cannot be answered by invoking Hon Raila’s name. We are amazed at how Jubilee wants Hon Raila to take the blame when their projects go wrong while they take the credit when things go right.
OCTOBER 10, 2016