Work on Kenya’s biggest water tunnel to begin

SHORTAGE A man pushes water on the bicycle in Kayole estate, Nairobi. The tunnel is expected to solve the city’s water problems
SHORTAGE A man pushes water on the bicycle in Kayole estate, Nairobi. The tunnel is expected to solve the city’s water problems

KENYA'S biggest water tunnel is set to proceed after controversy that surrounded were resolved.

Water cabinet secretary Eugene Wamalwa said the controversy that marred the Northern Collector Tunnel has been addressed and it is only a matter of time before President Uhuru Kenyatta does ground breaking ceremony.

The tunnel faced strong opposition from Murang'a residents and political leaders who expressed fears that the project might deplete the underground water as well as cause earthquakes.

Among those who vehemently opposed the Sh6.8 billion tunnel project is Murang'a Senator Kembi Gitura who claimed that the county already supplies 75 per cent of the water consumed in Nairobi yet Murang’a residents have nothing to show for it.

Kigumo MP Jamleck Kamau also demanded a fresh scientific impact assessment study.

Residents fear the tunnel may deplete water from rivers Irati, Gikigie and Maragua.

The residents said the three-metre wide underground tunnel, which will be placed 200 metres underground, may trigger landslides.

Wamalwa said despite the efforts that had been made in the sector, Nairobi and Mombasa still experience great water stress.

"Nairobi cannot be a green city without water.The ground breaking ceremony for the Northern Collector Tunnel is set to be done soon after issues that had been raised were resolved," Wamalwa said.

Wamalwa made the remarks yesterday at Nairobi governor Evans Kidero's office ahead of the 18th African Water Association (AfWA) Congress.

Athi Water Services Board, who are implementing the project, said the water will serve the growing population of Nairobi, which is expected to reach 10 million by 2030.

The tunnel was projected to boost Nairobi with about 700,000 cubic metres of water per day by December 2017 when the project was expected to be complete.

According to the masterplan, 1.2 billion litres of water will be required daily by 2035 and 670 million litres 2017.

Gichuki said Nairobi gets 580,000 cubic metres daily against a demand of 750,000 cubic metres a day leaving deficit of about 200,000.

Kidero said 37 per cent of water was being lost through leaking pipes, evaporation and illegal connections.

The governor gave up to end of March for all non-water employees to move out of houses supposed to belong to workers in water sector saying they pose security threats.