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New bid to block Sh6.8bn city water supply project

Construction of the Sh6.8 billion Northern Collector Water Tunnel in Murang’a hangs in the balance after an engineer moved to court to stop the project.

Mr Joseph Kuria Mwangi wants the National Environment Tribunal to halt the mega project arguing that the Athi Water Services Board (AWSB) has disregarded its likely impact it will have on the county.

The project would boost water supply to residents of Murang’a, Kiambu and Nairobi counties by injecting 142,000 cubic meters of water into Ndaka-ini dam daily once completed.

DUE PROCESS

Through lawyer Stephen Njoroge, Mr Mwangi accused National Environment Management Authority of irregularly granting licences for construction of water catchment dams without following due process.

“Nema has been doing this without proper environmental assessment as well as the social impact on the people living in the area the dam is being constructed,” Mr Njoroge said.

“Given the huge water demand and target of 140,000 cubic meters of water per day from three rivers within Murang’a, the board should have first sought the advice of Water Resource Management Authority but they refused,” said Njoroge.

“They did not state the effect of the project on current, proposed and future irrigation schemes within Maragua river basin. They did not also explain why they are only implementing Phase 1 and what will happen in Phase 2,” said Mr Njoroge.

He said the project will affect water balance along river basins between Thika and Chania, and that it was also unclear how underground water catchments would be protected.

The petitioner also wants Nema and AWSB officials held for contempt for allegedly allowing Chinese contractor, China Ghezouba Construction, to start work on the project despite an agreement that it holds until the disputes are resolved.

“Despite an agreement the status quo remains until disputes are resolved, Athi Water through its contractor, has started clearing the site and putting up structures,” said Njoroge.

He argued that the AWSB Chief Executive Officer was aware of the dispute but in total defiance went ahead to contract the Chinese Company.

STOP CONSTRUCTION

The petitioner wants an order stopping construction and for the Chinese company to remove its equipment from the site.

He also want Nema to immediately order the construction firm to restore the environment to its original state in the areas they had begun excavating and constructing structures.

Mr Njoroge submitted that Nema failed to consider a feasibility study by consulting engineers who concluded that there was no sufficient bedrocks in the region to support construction of the dam.

“The agency failed to consider Murang’a residents’ right to public participation in the approving process.

There was no meaningful public participation which affected their right to ensure the environment around them is protected,” said Njoroge.

He dismissed an environmental impact report presented by Nema as incomplete, inaccurate and misleading.

He further claimed that there was no evidence the authority involved other public institutions in implementing the project, and that they underestimated the damage the project will cause to surrounding villages.

“Not only springs and streams are likely to dry but all rivers as well. It will also affect water levels at wells and boreholes. This would leave the community devastated,” said Njoroge.

Hearing is set for Thursday.