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Leaders up in arms over Nairobi water supply project

Taps in Nairobi will continue running dry as Murang’a County threatens to stall a Sh6.8 billion water project.

The county government argues that instead of tapping water and pumping it to the capital, it should be allowed to develop the infrastructure so that Nairobi residents pay for the water.

President Uhuru Kenyatta is to officiate the project’s groundbreaking ceremony next month although Murang’a Senator Kembi Gitura wants it put off until concrete agreements are put in place to manage water resources.

“It would be unfair to drag the President into an issue we are yet to discuss and agree on. We must do things the right way,” Senator Gitura said.

WATER RATIONING

When complete, the northern collector tunnel will supply an additional 140,000 cubic metres of water to Nairobi daily. The city’s current shortfall is about 200,000 cubic metres per day.

This has made distributors like Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company ration water. The proposed tunnel will be between 20 to 25 metres deep, depending on terrain.

“My proposal would be to create a legal entity by way of a joint venture between the City and Murang’a Counties in which the two would jointly develop the concept, create a special purpose vehicle which would borrow money from the World Bank or any other such agency to develop the water sources that will then supply to consumers in Nairobi, Murang’a or any other county,” the Senator said.

He added that 75 per cent of Nairobi’s water comes from Murang’a and his county therefore needs adequate compensation.

“Nairobi contributes to about 60 per cent of the country’s GDP. That means Murang’a plays a big part in the country’s economy. What does Murang’a have to show for such a significant role? This is not a mistake we can afford to repeat,” he added.

Governor Mwangi wa Iria said they were only championing the interests of Murang’a people and not standing in the way of development.

SUSPEND TUNNEL

Late last year, the Murang’a County Assembly overwhelmingly adopted a motion suspending construction of the tunnel.

However, Athi River Water Service Board Chief Executive Officer Malaquen Milgo said contrary to the leaders’ fears, the county stood to gain.

“A 102-kilometre pipeline and two water treatment plants will be built for the benefit of more than 230,000 Murang’a residents, while 30,000 others in Gatanga will be beneficiaries of a 36-kilometre pipeline,” he said.

He added that the board may not meet some demands like paying one shilling per cubic metre of water extracted from the county.