The government has commenced cleaning of river Athi, ahead of completion of the Thwake Multipurpose dam in Makueni and Kitui counties.
Water PS Joseph Irungu said the Ministry of Water in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment and Forestry as well as Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) have started in earnest, efforts to clean up the river from its source in Ondiri swamp in Kiambu county together with Nairobi river, a tributary.
“Athi river is the main source of water for the dam. Unfortunately, it’s the most polluted. However, it will be cleaned as we promised because we are not doing a dam to hold sewage, but a dam to provide clean and safe water for Kenyans,” he said.
Speaking Tuesday during a visit of the dam site at the confluence of rivers Athi and Thwake, the PS said besides the cleaning, the government with the help of donors was in the process of setting up two sewer lines in Nairobi to curb the problem of sewage disposal.
“The main problem is Nairobi where raw sewage is disposed into the river, but the contractors have already started working. We have also set up a treatment plant in Ruai to treat the water waste before it’s discharged to the river,” he added.
Irungu added that people who have encroached on riparian areas will also be evicted to mitigate the pollution. “Those occupying riparian land will have to pave away. After cleaning the river upstream, we shall come downstream and collaborate with counties and we have already started engagements to ensure that the river remains clean,” noted the PS.
He expressed his satisfaction with the progress of the dam, though he disclosed that plans were underway to have the contractor China Ghezoubha Company (CGC) fast track the works and complete it before the set timeline.
“We plan to upscale the works and we are in talks with the contractor to mobilize machinery and staff to complete the dam by January 31,2022 as opposed to the earlier deadline of November 4,2022,” he added.
Irungu noted that all preliminary works including two diversion tunnels and a spillway had already been completed paving way for the main construction of the dam.
“Currently, progress is at 46 percent, the contractor is now doing the embankment of the dam, which is the most critical,” said the PS.
He underscored the importance of the dam, in achieving the government’s big four agenda, saying it will be a game changer not only in the region but also in the country.
“This is a flagship programme that will provide 150,000 cubic metres of water for domestic use in Makueni, Kitui and Machakos counties. It will also be the main source of water for Konza city,” said Irungu.
The dam will also produce 20 megawatts of hydroelectricity which will enhance manufacturing while over 100,000 acres of land will be put under irrigation, creating food security.
“The contractor has also hired tens of young engineers and there is a lot of skill transfer. We want Kenyans to do these kind of jobs in future,” added the PS.
by Roselyne Kavoo