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Governors want Thwake Dam construction stopped over pollution

NAIROBI
By Protus Onyango | December 11th 2018
Machakos governor Dr. Alfred Mutua and his Makueni counterpart Prof. Kivutha Kibwana addressing journalists outside a Wote hotel. [Stephen Nzioka, Standard]

 

Concerns have been raised over excessive pollution of River Athi, which is expected to pour the bulk of water in the proposed Sh62 billion Thwake Dam.

Stakeholders from Machakos, Makueni and Kitui, which the mega facility is expected to serve, want the Government to address environmental concerns arising from pollution of the river.

Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu called on Government to address the issues to make the river’s water clean so that it does not affect people, agriculture and environment.

“The national and county governments are focusing on food security for our people. It will be a tragedy if we use polluted water for irrigation,” Ngilu said.

Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua threatened to close down industries and other establishments responsible for polluting the Athi.

“I give companies in Machakos County, especially in Mavoko area, up to end of this month to ensure they have complied with environmental regulations and are not dumping industrial and other waste into the river,” the governor said.

He said he would also engage his Nairobi and Kiambu counterparts, Mike Sonko and Ferdinand Waititu respectively, to ensure strict compliance to laws and regulations governing environmental conservation.

Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana, who chairs the Thwake Inter-county Consultative Forum, has been rooting for ‘continuous engagement’ between the Government and stakeholders in order to smoothly address emerging issues regarding the project.

Former Yatta MP Francis Mwangangi, who during his tenure invited a Parliamentary Committee on Environment to tour sections of the river, has urged Government to give priority to cleaning up of the river to ensure safety of thousands of people who will be served by the dam.

“In 2016, the Parliamentary committee on environment and natural resources toured sections of this river on my invitation and made findings that its waters were badly contaminated and therefore recommended a clean-up plan. To date no efforts have been done and the levels of pollution have increased,” said Mr Mwangangi.

According to a project design seen by The Standard, the irrigation component of the mega dam scheduled for the fifth phase targets to put about 10,000ha under irrigation by gravity.

However, Government has prioritised the hydropower generation component as well as distribution of water and supply to various urban centers, including Konza Techno City in Machakos, Kibwezi, Wote and Emali towns in Makueni, as well as parts of Kajiado County.

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