Society / Environment
Wednesday, 26 Oct 2016 11:40 EATnewsdesk@kenyafreepress.com
An engineer who was involved in the discussions by the Muranga county government and Athi Water Services Board that culminated in the county's endorsement of the Northern Collector Tunnel Project has claimed that the two entities 'doctored' the environmental impact study they are currently using to defend the project.
Civil engineer Paul Kimani has said that the report of an independent Murang’a County government study into the project, titled "The Report of the Technical Committee on Northern Collector Tunnel Project" foresaw many negative impacts of the project, as did an environmental and social impact assessment.
According to Eng Kimani, the county assembly committee dealing with the project had endorsed the independent report forecasting that the proposed tunnelling of the region could result in changes to the underground drainage systems and the drying up of rivers and springs.
He also said the committee had established that, in accordance with an assessment of river hydrology, the first phase of the project would trigger substantial reduction in downstream flows in Maragua, Irati and Gikigie rivers and unacceptable negative impact downstream of the intakes.
The engineer recalled that in June 2015, when the county government convened stakeholders at the Kenol Palm Springs Hotel to deliberate the project report, the stakeholders expected the county administration to implement its own report that called for AWSB to halt its operations at the site, revise the ESIA and redesign the project to address the most ominous impacts. However, the county government and AWSB decided to merge the two documents, and the end result was a report that sanitised all the negative aspects and gave the project a clean bill of health.
Noting that water resources should be managed, regulated and conserved in an effective and efficient manner by involving the stakeholders through a process of public participation, he has called for the suspension of the project so that AWSB can perform the necessary geotechnical investigations, maps aquifers, and perform a comprehensive basin study for all Murang’a County rivers.
"Our opposition is supported by information from the project ESIA and the independent Murang’a County government report," he said in a statement. He says that the Muranga people's access to water is not being guaranteed as the project is currently designed, and the environment will be destroyed in the long term.
The expert has also demanded that the county government should make public the records of the meeting that elected leaders from Muranga held with the Cabinet Secretary for Water and Irrigation and AWSB at the Safari Park Hotel on October 17.
The leaders pronounced their endorsement of the project on conditions that Muranga people will benefit from it, but the kind of benefit they were assured has not been explained. Mr Kimani has said that the financial compensation that the leaders demanded for the region cannot be a justification for the project.
He has called for a public and expert-led discussion on the contradictions between the ESIA and the report endorsing the project. "Each of the contradictions would require substantial engineering and public participation", he said.
With the media interest in the project down, construction has resumed at the site even as the people await credible answers about their future water and environmental security.