Families criticise eviction over water tunnel project

Residents accuse State of invading land before payout, want construction of Murang’a collector halted

 Mathew Ndung’u and James Wakahiu

More than 50 households facing forcible eviction to pave way for the controversial Northern Water Collector Tunnel in Murang’a, have accused the government of invading their land before settling on compensation terms.

The affected residents have demanded halting of the project until favourable payout terms are agreed upon.

In a new twist that could slow continuity of the project, the government, using compulsory acquisition policy last week allegedly started evicting residents to allow for installation of a pipeline connecting the tunnel to Ng’ethu in Gatundu North constituency for treatment before supply to Nairobi.

Accompanied by armed police officers, workers of the Chinese company contracted to put up the project destroyed  coffee, tea and other cash crop farms.

        Settled grievances

A Mau Mau war veteran, 90-year-old Njuguna Chege, whose land was invaded criticised the government for “forcing a project on the people”.

“The government should rethink construction of this project. I have no notice to quit and my only land is now gone before I am compensated,” he said.

Simon Njogoo, a resident, said the project would leave residents poorer.

Speaking on the phone, Mwangi Thuita, the Athi Water Services engineer who is overseeing the project, however, dismissed the allegations.

He said they have settled all the grievances lodged by affected residents.

“There’s only one farmer whose issue is pending,” he said.

Gatanga MP Mwangi Wa Nduati urged residents to be calm as his office and National Land Commission among others address the matter. 

Meanwhile, the water crisis in Murang’a might continue as the dispute between Governor Mwangi Wa Iria and former Equity Bank Group chairman Peter Munga persists over management of water companies.

Wa Iria has allegedly instructed all residents to stop paying water dues to Murang’a Water and Sewerage Company (Muwasco) until an all-inclusive stakeholders’ meeting is convened to deliberate on the way forward in the matter.

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