Why the government has scrapped Sh35bn Mzima Two water project


A woman fetches fresh water from a burst pipe in Mombasa County in this picture taken on April 1, 2019. 


Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The project that was meant to supply water to Taita Taveta, Kwale, Mombasa and Kilifi counties.
  • Water and Sanitation CS Zachariah Njeru said the government was still keen to implement the project.

The water woes facing counties in Coast region seem to be far from over, after the national government disclosed that it has scrapped plans to implement the Sh35 billion Mzima Two water project.

Addressing senators on Tuesday, Water and Sanitation Cabinet Secretary Zachariah Njeru said the government was mulling an alternative approach to implement the project that was meant to supply water to Taita Taveta, Kwale, Mombasa and Kilifi counties.

Mr Njeru explained to the MPs that the initiative was terminated after it proved too costly and unattractive to investors.

The CS was quick to add, however, that the government was still keen to ensure that the project was implemented as soon as possible.

The CS was responding to a question by Taita Taveta Senator Jones Mwaruma, who wanted to know the status of the project and why construction had been delayed after a previous announcement that it was set to begin in September last year.

Mr Mwaruma cited a statement made by Mr Njeru’s predecessor, Ms Alice Wahome, in April last year regarding its progress.

The former CS had told MPs that the project would be executed through a public-private partnership agreement.

“Last year, the former CS was here and she stated that the project was in the business development stage, which would end in July for construction to start in September. Why has the project not started and when it will start?” Mr Mwaruma posed.

During campaigns in the run-up to the 2017 General Election, former President Uhuru Kenyatta and his then deputy William Ruto pledged to kick off construction of the project in 2018.

The Mzima Phase Two project was designed to augment the existing Mzima Phase One that was completed in 1966. 

Mzima Two is expected to ease pressure on the aging pipeline , which has been experiencing frequent breakdowns, and increase the water supply from the current 86,000 cubic metres per day to 186,000 cubic metres.

The project involves the construction of a 220-kilometre pipeline from Mzima Springs in Tsavo West National Park to the coastal counties. It also includes a water treatment plant, storage tanks and distribution networks.

During his campaigns for the 2022 presidential election, Dr Ruto had promised to implement the project once elected.

During a visit to the region in July last year, President Ruto had promised to launch its construction before December last year. 

He revealed that he had ordered a restructuring of its cost after realising that it had been exaggerated. President Ruto said the new feasibility study would take into account the current and projected water demand, the availability of alternative sources, the environmental and social impacts, and the best financing model.

The termination of the project has dampened the hopes of Coast residents, who are now accusing the government of neglecting their water needs and reneging on its promises.