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Preserve The Eco-system Lest The NCT Will Turn To A Tunnel Of Death.

PS in the ministry of water and irrigation Prof. Fred Segor (fourth left) together with PSC on water and environmental resources led by its chairperson Dr. Wiber Otichilo (second right) going through technicalities of the northern corridor water collector tunnel (NCT) at the construction site in Makomboki village of Kigumo constituency.
Murang’a residents have been warned of adverse environmental effects if the Northern Collider Water Collector Tunnel will be put into use without proper mitigation on the water catchment areas along the Aberdares.

The adverse environmental effects will be necessitated by the change of climate and destruction of the Aberdares eco-system as observed by the parliamentary select committee on environment and natural resources.

Speaking at the site of the NCT at Makomboki village in Kigumo constituency when the PSC toured the site, the chairman of the committee Dr. Wilber Otichilo emphasized on the need to preserve the eco-system that is surrounding the Aberdares forest, so as to ensure that enough rainfall will be found to sustain water flow at the tunnel.

“As we all know very well that climate change is there and this is something that we cannot ignore. Due to the climate change and if the water catchment areas in the Aberdares will be destroyed, of course the water flows will reduce and as a result of many factors, we expect an impact in the long run. But this is something we cannot certainly say for now and that is why we are emphasizing that there must be a serious monitoring program on this project that will be continuous. Monitoring will therefore be part of maintenance and operations of this project.” Otichilo said.

The Emuhaya legislator added that monitoring system must be put in place so that water catchment in the Aberdares must be monitored, conserved and ensure the average flow in maintained.

The PSC chairman was franked by seven MPs was tasked Athi water services board engineers to give proper estimates in volumes of the amount of flood water that will be getting into the tunnel and also draw a clear curve or when the amount will reduce in the tunnel.

“We want to see water getting to the tunnel because we don’t want this project to be a white elephant project, and your long time data of 37 years, we should be able to calculate the volume of flood water getting through the tunnel.” Otichilo demanded.

He said that the committee was interested in seeing what social and economic impacts are on the project as well as how the project is being undertaken.

He continues that if model works and river flow continues without major adverse impact on the floor of the tunnel, then there will be no bigger impact although in projects of this magnitude and technical level, you will expect a lot of controversies because of technicalities involved.

He continued, “Our main interest is to see how the water will be extracted from the main rivers into the tunnel and whether the water that will get into the tunnels will impact on the overall flow that comes from these catchment areas into the Tana River.”

The committee said it had been given details on the project, looked at all the models and measures taken but it will be supplied with more information especially on long time river flows, how much water will get into the tunnel and as to whether there will be times of the year during adverse periods when tunnel will be having no water,  

“This needs a lot of calculations, there are a lot of probabilities, a lot of competition of mathematics which is very complex. And at this level I cannot exactly tell you whether there will be water through out or at times but what I can confidently say is that there will be fluctuations in the water flow in the tunnel depending on the water flow in the rivers where the intakes are going to be taken.” Said the chair.

Otichilo opined that the tunnel that has been constructed 600 meters long is a very serious project with very serious impacts both socially and economically but he was quick to clear that details on the effects will come out once the PSC is done with its report.

However, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Water and Irrigation Prof. Fred Segor who accompanied the PSC differed with the committee chairman down playing the issue saying there are no adverse effects that can be found out of the tunnel excavation.

The PS said that the project underwent serious scientific study in terms of its impact on the people of this Murang’a and especially the Aberdares where there is flora and fauna and it is important such species are protected.

Segor pointed out that the project is being done after all scientific considerations have been put in place. 

“This one underwent NEMA regulations in terms of impacts on environment, WARMA too was engaged to determine how much water is in the rivers.” He said.

At some point, Segor acknowledged that indeed, the project must have effects on the community but was again quick to add that the effects that might arise from the tunnel might not be too adverse.

“We believe that the impact it will have on environment will be very minimal and nobody should be worried in terms of downstream users.” Segor said.

The PS acknowledged the project as a very important one because it is using the most advanced technology in terms of tunneling. It’s also modern in the sense that it is able to take care of the need of environment and able to use the latest kind of technology internally.

He added that his team from the ministry had accompanied MPs so as to understand and be able to allay the fears that have been raised by several quarters, after which the committee will be able to come up with a report

“We have an independent panel of experts ranging from engineers, ideologists, geophysics so that at every stage when this project is ongoing, they are able to understand the dynamics. The committee will be giving its report and findings in due course.” He said.

In giving back to Murang’a community, the ministry has carried out projects amounting to Sh.2.7 billion and an addition of Sh.1.3 billion thus making a total of over Sh.4 billion for water piping in Murang’a County.

In ensuring that the aberdares will not be destroyed and thus saving Murang’a from the adverse effects, planting of trees will be necessitated to avoid the levels of waters from reducing in the rivers.

The PS also maintained that land compensation in this case has already been done and if there is a special case that has not been compensated, the complains should be passed in Athi water services board office that is situated at the site of the construction.

Progressively, the project that is expected to take 140 cubic meters of water to Nairobi every day is ongoing at the pace it’s expected.

Tunneling is divided in three parts because it will have to be completed in three years where water is being tapped from three major rivers in Muranga.

Athi water services board chairman Mr. Wachira Keen called on torrerance from Murang’a community assuring them that there will no adverse effects on environment as cited by opposition chief Raila Odinga.

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