Departments and agencies entrusted with implementing development projects have a duty to engage beneficiaries and the general public at the conception stage.
Speaking at an impromptu public Baraza at Soweto wetland, Rwanyange location in Imenti North sub-county over the weekend, Meru County Commissioner (CC), Alan Machari said the public had a right to be brought on board to participate and contribute towards the actualization of a development project in their area.
Machari said failure of proper consultation with the public on any activity likely to directly or indirectly affect their livelihood would only trigger resistance and sabotage of projects adding that the public should be well sensitized and convinced of the importance of any project and the benefits it was meant to bring in their life.
The Administrator was on a routine County Development Implementation and Coordination Committee project verification tours of the Meru Sewer line when he was confronted by aggrieved residents.
The residents said they were not ready to allow the construction of the waste stabilization and treatment ponds near Soweto wetland and Kinyaritha River, saying the project was likely to contaminate the water they used for domestic and agricultural activities.
They noted that national government officials given the duty of consulting and sensitizing the public had not been diligent enough hence the current standoff, adding that there was need for all players to be involved at the drawing board for a more collective decision.
The 52km project has already been allocated Sh.874million by the National government and the contractor was on site ready to start mobilizing machines and labour for the works to commence.
The Tana Water Engineer, Marigi Mengo said the relevant players had carried out public sensitization and participation activities for the affected people adding that a few people neighbouring the site for the treatment works had issues with the project.
Mengo said the government had already acquired the 42 acre parcel of land for the stabilization and treatment ponds, saying the sewer line was meant to improve the current situation where the existing line was far below the increasing population in Meru town and its environments.
He said on completion, the line was projected to serve over 183,000 people compared to the current one which had the capacity of serving 65,000 people only.
Machari assured the public and local leaders that there was no cause for alarm as the valid questions and concerns they had brought to his attention would be addressed as they charted the way forward on the project.
He however, cautioned the public against any form of incitement among themselves against development projects initiated by either the National or County government for personal interests or gains.
He reiterated that anybody found to be perpetrating any form of animosity against government officials or contractors would be treated as a hooligan and made to face the law.
By Makaa Margaret