Water board wants order on Kibos river venture overturned

A water board wants the High Court to lift an order it issued in June that halted a Sh3 billion water project on Kibos River in Kisumu County.

Lake Victoria South Water Services Board (LVSWB) wants an order issued on June 13 by the Kisumu Environment and Lands Court set aside because it is hampering the project that is near completion.

LVSWB’s lawyer Kennedy Odera told Justice Anthony Kaniaru on Monday that the order would disrupt operations at the project that was expected to be completed in October this year.

He said it would benefit many residents of the county and that it should not be delayed.

The water purification project started on December 6, 2010, after the signing of a contract between LVSWB and a Chinese contractor — Zhonghao Overseas Construction Engineering. The initial amount of the contract was Sh1.4 billion.

It was halted after Mr Mike Junga, who has sued as a resident of Kajulu village in Kisumu County, convinced the court to certify his application as urgent and subsequently issue the stay orders against the LVSWB and the contractor.

Mr Junga said the project was initiated without consulting the local community, which he said would create friction.

“There might be a social conflict arising from the use of community land water as the project will impact on the lives of the inhabitants of the area and the water volumes,” Mr Junga says in his affidavit.

He adds that the project would affect the volume of water on the Kibos River and reduce supply to the people living downstream. In his supporting affidavit the respondent said he lived “on the lower side” of the river that is likely to be affected.

Mr Junga claims the initiators of the project did not get a licence from the National Environment Management Authority (Nema). The intended diversion of the river, he says, will contravene Article 42 of the Constitution.

In the suit, Zhonghao Engineering  is listed alongside LVSWB as the respondents.

There are other three interested parties namely Nema, the Water Resources Management Authority and the Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Environment and Mineral Resources.

But LVSWB told the court that Mr Junga did not present all facts before court at the time he applied for a stay. It also argued that he had not deposited securities for costs, which might cause a precarious situation if the court were to decide on costs at the end of the case.

Despite opposition from some of the parties, Mr Justice Kaniaru adjourned the case and extended the stay orders until tomorrow when he will hear the case.