‘Serious trespass’: Kang’ata responds to Sakaja’s unannounced Ndakaini visit

A silent visit to Ndakaini dam in Murang’a county by Nairobi county Governor Johnson Sakaja has once again reopened the water battle between the two counties.

Sakaja on Wednesday took to his social media accounts to post photos of an excursion to various water sources that serve Nairobi residents, his caption read “Spent the day inspecting our water sources and treatment plants at Ndakaini Dam in Muranga, Ngethu Water Treatment Plant in Kiambu and Sasumua Dam in Nyandarua together with our water company leadership”

This seems to not have sat well with Murang’a Governor Irungu Kang’ata who for a long time has been accusing Nairobi county of shortchanging Murang’a.

Kang’ata, who appeared unaware of the tour to the facility in his county, described the visit as a “serious trespass,” while commenting on pictures shared by the Nairobi governor on his official Twitter page. He went on to express his displeasure by sharing screenshots of the tweet on his WhatsApp status.

Ndakaini Dam, the biggest reservoir in the country, which sits in Gatanga constituency, supplies about 84 per cent of water consumed in Nairobi county.

The dam constructed in 1994 has a storage capacity of 70,000,000 cubic metres of water and is 65 metres deep, producing 430,000 cubic metres of water for supply to Nairobi residents. The dam draws its water from Thika, Githika and Kayuyu rivers.

The national government is concluding the construction of an 11.8-kilometre-long tunnel that is set to boost water supply by channelling 140,000 cubic metres of water each day into Ndakaini dam.

The Sh8.2 billion tunnel that has been under construction since 2015 will draw water from rivers Gikigie, Maragua and Irati and is expected to end perennial water shortages in Nairobi.

Tensions between the two counties had long been high, with some Murang’a leaders demanding that a share of the dam’s water be reserved for locals.

In January this year, Sakaja announced that the tunnel would open in August, saying that some issues that had delayed its completion had been resolved.

Meanwhile, Governor Kang’ata announced plans to push for legislation through the county Assembly for payment of Murang’a water channelled to Nairobi.

“In consultation with the Assembly, there will be a policy that will guide compensation of our resource channelled to Nairobi and its environs,” said Kang’ata

Murang’a Senator Joe Nyutu has also been vocal in demanding Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company (NCWSCO) pay for the supply it draws from Murang’a rivers.

“A county like Narok gets revenue from tourism the same way Murang’a should benefit from its water,” lamented the Senator

March this year, Nyutu said Murang’a should not continue giving its water to NCWSCO for free while the water company charges Nairobi resident for the commodity.

The senator said that while Murang’a supplies a large percentage of the water distributed in the capital, locals face water shortages and walk long distances in search of the commodity.

“NCWSCO should either consider supplying the commodity to Murang’a residents satisfactorily or pay a premium based on the litres of water drawn from the county,” he remarked

Nyutu added that the water company has not taken up Corporate Social Responsibility activities in Murang’a county despite the county supplying it with water.

Former Murang’a Governor Mwangi Wa Iria had earlier threatened to go to court to force the government to allow the county’s residents access to water from the Ndakaini dam.

Locals also say the dam does not help them as they have endured water shortage for a long time despite the region hosting the biggest dam that supplies water to Nairobi and its environs.

The residents say that they are not even allowed to “draw a cup of water from the dam even if one is dying from thirst”.

“When the NCWSC see you trying to draw water from the dam, they get you arrested yet we are the ones who conserve the environment for them to get that water which they don’t even allow to touch,” said one resident.

The Nairobi and Murang’a County Governments have for long tussled over the supply of water from the Ndakaini Dam with former Murang’a Senator Kembi Gitura arguing proposing creation of a legal entity by way of a joint venture between the City County of Nairobi and the Murang’a County whereby the two will jointly develop the water concept.

Kembi, who was Murang’a senator between 2013-2017 said that by creating a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) the two counties would borrow money from the World Bank or any other such body to develop the water sources that will then supply the water to Nairobi, Murang’a County and or any other consumers.

He added that the SPV jointly owned as aforesaid would sell the water to Nairobi mainly and to the future cities in Murang’a and or such other entities.

‘If the concept for any reason is not acceptable to the Nairobi City County, or for that matter to Athi Water Services Board, and then Murang’a County must go it alone and develop the facility and sell any excess water to any willing buyer including Nairobi,” he remarked in 2015.

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