STATEMENT BY MURANG’A SENATOR ON THE PROPOSED NORTHERN COLLECTOR TUNNEL
When we last met as leaders and other stakeholders from Murang’a County to discuss the Northern Collector Tunnel (NCT) in or about January of this year at Golden Palm Hotel in Kenol, it was unanimously agreed that a technical committee be commissioned by the Murang’a County Government to look into the various areas of concern regarding the building of the said tunnel. The terms of reference included amongst others:
– to look into whether or not the proposed tunnel would in any way affect the aquifers that lie between the three rivers in question, that is Maragua, Irati and Gikigie and Ndakaini dam, and therefore be a threat to the normal flow of the said rivers now and in the future,
– if it was found that it was safe from both a scientific and environmental point of view to build the tunnel, the committee was to determine how Muranga County was to benefit from the extraction of its water for the benefit of another county, to wit Nairobi. It was emphasized that Muranga as a county should not repeat the Ndakaini mistake. It must be recalled that when Ndakaini was built, devolution had not even been thought of, we had only the national government. Today, we have Murang’a as a government on an equal footing with Nairobi. We must therefore not allow anything to be done to the detriment of the people we represent for the benefit of another county.
It was also agreed that pending the report from the experts, Athi Water Supplies Board (AWSB) should stop all work pertaining to the building of the tunnel. In defiance of this agreement, AWSB has mobilized and has been busy setting up the equipment with a view to commencing works, mainly at Makomboki in Kigumo sub-county. Further to this, AWSB has been on a propaganda blitz in Kikuyu vernacular FM stations and in newspapers preaching as it were to the Murang’a people on the benefits of the tunnel to them and ridiculing the efforts of the leaders to have the matter properly dealt with.
AWSB seems to think that this propaganda is equivalent to public participation which it is not; AWSB needs to be disabused of this notion and made to understand, which it does not appear to do, that it cannot take Murang’a people for granted. We are also all aware that there is an environmental court order for the works to be put on hold pending determination of the matter by the court, an order that the AWSB has continued to defy.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Murang’a County Government for having appointed a technical committee as was agreed at the Golden Palm Hotel in the leaders and stakeholders meeting aforesaid. I have read there report, and I would like to take this early opportunity to thank the committee for a job well done.
Among the findings made are that,
– the tunnel will seriously affect the aquifers lying between the three rivers and Ndakaini dam, and have serious environmental and other effects on the said rivers and more so on the people living downstream and depend on the rivers,
– it is not sustainable for the tunnel and the water supply to depend solely on flood waters from the three rivers as the AWSB has been propagating to be the case. Extraction of the water will cause water shortage to an already thirsty region. The people living downstream could very well lose the benefit of water which has sustained their livelihood since time immemorial.
– Murang’a cannot afford to repeat the Ndakaini mistake. Ndakaini has continued to supply 75% of all the water needs of Nairobi without anything to show for it. Since Nairobi produces 60% of our GDP, how much does the 75% of the water contribute to the GDP and what does Murang’a have to show for it? These are issues that have been consistently swept under the carpet.
– it is time for Murang’a County to come out with a strategy of how best to sustainably utilize its water for its own benefit and that of those others including Nairobi who may need the service. Murang’a should not give away its water as it were, only to buy it in the future when the need shall arise. We must think strategically and generate revenue to help develop our county.
For the foregoing reasons, I reiterate my consistent stand on this issue. Murang’a County must do what is right now for both the present and future generations. We cannot afford to do anything that will jeopardize our county. AWSB must stop its propaganda and respect the rights of Murang’a people. We appointed the committee of experts at a meeting at which AWSB was represented by no less than its CEO. We must respect the position and advise given by the committee. We must not allow AWSB to continue with its propaganda misleading our people on the tunnel and related matters.
I consequently trust that that Muranga County Assembly shall make the necessary resolution in line with the experts’ report and that our Governor will not sign any agreement with the AWSB to destroy our heritage and give away our water. We are trustees not just for the people we represent today, but also for all future generations.
Sen. Kembi-Gitura MGH, MP.
Senator for Murang’a County
Deputy Speaker, Senate of Kenya