The government is in the final phase of renewing the multi-billion financing agreement for Mzima II Water Project to pave way for the commencement of the long-awaited project.
Cabinet Secretary for Water, Irrigation and Sanitation Sicily Kariuki confirmed that Treasury was on the last steps of refreshing the financing agreement to compensate for time lapse between when the project conception was done and the proposed implementation dates.
Speaking at Mzima Springs in Tsavo West National Park on Thursday during an official visit to familiarize herself with the project, the CS termed the mega project as both worthwhile and meaningful noting that it would serve water needs of millions in the coastal region.
Mzima II is the biggest water project in the Coast region straddling five counties and expected to serve over 1.5 million residents.
The CS noted that the commercial agreement was already in place with the financing agreements having been executed in 2018 with Exim Bank of China.
“I am satisfied this project will meet the objectives captured in the plans. It is indeed a meaningful project that will support the President’s Big 4 Agenda,” she said.
Noting that Mzima II was poised to unlock the economic potential of the Coast region in terms of agriculture, manufacturing and livestock sector, the CS said it would also cut down on the water deficit currently in the region.
She however noted that the commissioning of the project was wholly dependent on the completion of the financing agreement which the national treasury was finalizing.
She noted that this renewal of the fiscal agreement was necessitated by the vast time lapse since the 1960s when the project was conceived and the current dates of actual implementation.
There were also reports that the original design would also be enhanced to conform to modern mass water distribution systems intended to serve large populations.
The renewing will allow amongst others for smooth financing and rapid project implementation that will allow the government to get value for money.
“I am following the progress with my colleague at the Treasury and the plans are very advanced. When the agreement is refreshed, we will start the project,” she added.
The CS was accompanied by Water Secretary Sao Alima, County Commissioner Rhoda Onyancha, Tsavo Conservation Area Robert Njue, Coast Water Works Development Agency boss Mustafa Idd and Agency’s CEO Jacob Kotut amongst several others senior water officials.
The Mzima II concept, first done in the 60s during the construction of the current Mzima line, was in anticipation of serving an expanded population in the coastal region.
The 220-km line will complement the existing dilapidated line which is often prone to frequent bursts that led to massive loss of water and dry pipes for weeks before repairs.
Mzima II will have a daily carrying capacity of over 105 million litres against the current capacity of 40,000 cubic meters. The new project will also have several provisions for water outlets including strategic watering points for wildlife inside Tsavo National Park.
Though the actual budget remains unknown, estimates for the entire project hints to amounts between Sh 35 and 42billion. With the anticipated design enhancement, the original budget is also likely to be affected hence the need to relook at the financing agreement.
The CS stated that all the stakeholders in the coast region and their representatives were constantly being updated and consulted over the project to keep them in the loop. She moved to allay fears that some regions in the coastal region would miss out from the project stating that Mzima II was designed to benefit the whole region.
“All the leaders are being constantly updated and informed on the status of the project. No region that is targeted by the project will miss out,” she said.
She however expressed her concerns over the declining water volumes at Mzima Springs owing to wanton degradation at the Kyullu Hills; the source of Mzima springs. She stated that the government would take a unified approach to address the degradation that was threatening millions of lives depending on the waters.
She stated the operation to rehabilitate the degraded areas would be spearheaded by the Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism and Water.
“This is a source of concern and the government will take a unified approach to ensure the source of the springs is protected,” she said.
The Ministry of Wildlife and Tourism has pledged funding for erecting a fence around Mzima springs.
By Wagema Mwangi