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January 16, 2019

Restore water supply to Kieni or I’ll do it myself, MP tells Chelugui

Kieni residents at a meeting to discuss water problems on Thursday. Water intakes have been closed and pipes in forests destroyed /EUTYCAS MUCHIRI
Kieni residents at a meeting to discuss water problems on Thursday. Water intakes have been closed and pipes in forests destroyed /EUTYCAS MUCHIRI

Kieni MP Kanini Kega wants water supply restored so residents can  quench thirst, irrigate and 

produce food.

Kega said on Thursday that “my people” will not rely on relief food when they can grow crops and produce their own. He criticised Cabinet secretaries Keriako Tobiko (Environment) and Simon Chelugui (Water) for ordering disconnection of water ‘intakes’. The intakes are collection points from where supplies are drawn.

The legislator wants the decision reversed or he will “personally” ensure the reservoirs are opened to allow free flow. He said the situation is getting out of hand and must be fixed swiftly.

“Patients in hospitals are compelled to carry water. This is totally unacceptable,” he said.

Recently, Chelugui toured the area and ordered that water abstraction be stopped, pending an audit. He said illegal intakes were lowering river levels.

Pipes damaged

Abstraction is extraction of water. People living downstream had complained about low volumes in rivers Sagana and Thegu and called for a swift remedy.

But Kega said the disconnection is hurting his constituents. He faulted Tobiko for ordering destruction of intakes in Mt Kenya Forest.

The minister is leading government efforts to conserve forests. Residents however accused Kenya Forest Service officers of destroying their pipes and repositories.

“There is no way Mt Kenya can be a curse to us. It should be a blessing. These people say they’ll proceed to the Aberdare to disconnect water after they are through with intakes in Mt Kenya,” Kega told Narumoru villagers in Mt Kenya Forest, Kieni. 

Huge investment

He said some of the intakes have existed for more than 50 years and residents have invested a lot of money in them.

“I’m happy they did not destroy the intake on this end. But in Kabaru area, it was total destruction — very shameful,” the legislator said.

He said the government has the responsibility to ensure citizens are food-secure and directives must be evaluated before they are enforced.

Residents use the water for agriculture and to meet their daily domestic needs. The resources are their source of livelihoods. It was, therefore, wrong for a CS to call for destruction of pipes and intakes without considering the millions of shillings invested in the projects, Kega said.

He said crops have withered, fish have died in ponds and hospitals and schools risk closure because they lack water. The lawmaker said Kieni lies on the side of Mt Kenya that receives inadequate rainfall, hence residents depend on rivers to grow crops.

He suggested that water be opened from 6pm to 6am, then left to flow downstream during the day. 

“We can’t have water that is of no help to us and is instead ending up in the Indian Ocean or helping people living elsewhere,” Kega said.

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