Residents from Thuura-Rwanyange location in Imenti North sub-county of Meru have vowed to stop the construction of a proposed waste water treatment plant in the area.
The residents sentiments of area political and community leaders that if implemented, the project was likely to pose numerous health hazards in the location and neighbours living downstream.
Their complaints were presented during a public consultative baraza organized by Tana Water Services Board at the proposed project site near Kinyaritha River which draws its water from a nearby swamp .
They said most of the people earn a living from the arrowroot they harvest from the swampy parts of their farm saying they had earlier rejected the proposal. They further said that the people to be affected were not brought on board during feasibility study.
The people claimed that the project would contaminate the water in the swampy areas affecting area residents who use Kinyaritha water for domestic and agricultural activities.
At one point the agitated crowd became unruly when representatives of the implementing agencies said plans for the implementation of the project had reached an advanced stage making it difficult to reverse.
The residents reiterated the need for the government to consider the number of people likely to be affected by the project.
Speaking to the agitated crowd, County Commissioner, Alan Machari said adequate public participation had already been carried out on the ground in relation to the project saying a contractor had been assigned the site.
Machari said the government was committed to improving sewerage and sanitation systems in Meru town and nobody would be allowed to incite innocent people against community development initiated by either national or county government.
The administrator said all government projects were guided by law saying leaders had an obligation to mobilize the public into fruitful dialogue and negotiations to pave way for full implementation to the benefit of target population.
In April, the leaders speaking on behalf of the residents claimed not to have been involved in the planning of the project demanding for relevant documentation on how the project came into existence including the NEMA license.
However, residents denied that they were opposing government development programs, saying the identified site was appropriate for a more viable and friendly project such as a technical training institute or an agricultural research center.
The proposed sanitation project worth Sh874 million is projected to serve over 183,000 people on completion compared to the existing system which serves 65,000 people.
The water engineer in charge of the project, Marigi Mengo said the disputed project was meant to take care of the increasing population within Meru town to ease prevailing sanitation challenges.
By Makaa Margaret