Controversial ‘Tunnels of Death’ a safe project – Athi Water Board

Controversial ‘Tunnels of Death’ a safe project – Athi Water Board

The controversial Northern Collector Tunnel (NCT) water project in Murang’a County has been given a clean bill of health by the Athi Water Services Board (AWSB), which says that the project will not have dire effects as state by a section of political leaders.

Addressing a press conference in Nairobi, Friday, October 14 morning, Athi Water Services Board sought to allay fears that the project would lead to desertification of some areas including Murang’a and the Tana delta basin.

The board said that it had already conducted a feasibility study and according to the findings, the project would not in any way drain the rivers as claimed by the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) leader, Raila Odinga.

The consortium which conducted the study included project engineers, environmental experts and technical partners who distilled the concept and its implementation.

A consultant from GIBB Internationals, which is part of the contractors implementing the project, said that the implementation framework has been prepared and that they ensured the project does not result in adverse environmental effects.

Eng Ranjit Rupra from Mangat IB Patel said that the Northern Collector Tunnel will mostly abstract flood waters, and thus help in mitigating the negative effects of flooding.

Earlier, CORD’s Raila Odinga had claimed the Ksh 6.8 billion project would turn Murang’a, Garissa, Ukambani and Tana River Delta regions into deserts in five years.

His sentiments were echoed by Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) deputy party leader and Mombasa Governor, Ali Hassan Joho, who reiterated that the project would cause economic sabotage of the Coast region.

Water Cabinet Secretary, Eugene Wamalwa, defended the project claiming the Environmental Impact Assessment had been done and that the project would not lead to desertification as it only seeks to collect over flowing water.

The tunnels, which have been dubbed ‘tunnels of death’, were initially set to harvest water from Rivers Maragua, Irati and Gikigie with Rivers Hembe, Githugi, North and South Mathioya, all tributaries of Tana River, and later roped into the project as well.

On Wednesday, October 19, Murang’a Members of the County Assembly (MCAs) have vowed to move a motion to stop the construction of the project claiming they do not see how it benefits residents of Murang’a County when it was meant to help residents of Nairobi.

Eng Malaquen Milgo, the Chief Executive Officer of AWSB, said: “If we can look prevailing perception issues, we will learn that NCT is a true bet on science and latest technology and a demonstration of how Kenya continues to tap into latest technology, global standards in health and environmental to deliver services to its  community sustainability.”