MPs want ‘bungled’ Galana irrigation project suspended

One of the centre pivot irrigation machines installed on the second plantation farm in a ten thousand hectares model Farm of Galana Kulalu Food Security Project which was officially launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta on July 16, 2015. [PHOTO: File/Standard].

A parliamentary committee now wants the Jubilee administration's million-acre Galana-Kulalu irrigation scheme suspended because of failed pilot projects. The MPs said the project had already gobbled up at least Sh7 billion without tangible results.

Addressing a news conference at Nairobi's Continental House, the National Assembly's Committee on Agriculture said the officials and players involved in the project must also be investigated for misusing taxpayers' money.

"The manner in which the project has been implemented is very absurd and unfortunate that ... the fruits of that noble idea financed by taxpayers' money have not been achieved," said the committee chairman Adan Nooru (Mandera North).

The project was meant to put 10,000 acres under irrigation in Galana-Kulalu by March 2016 and expand it to cover a million acres in the medium term.

"It was supposed to address the issue of food security. The concept was to open up and develop arid and semi-arid areas and move away from the rain-fed agricultural production to irrigation," said Nooru.

Nooru said the MPs had called for the suspensions when they realised that the feasibility study had been inflated by Sh200 million.

Investigate officials

"Kenyans are not getting value for their money. The committee recommends that the project be suspended with immediate effect and investigations begin ...It is very absurd that Kenyans were given hopes, and we have become hopeless. Those who were in charge at the Ministry of Agriculture at that particular time and the implementing agencies are the people who are supposed to be investigated,” said Nooru.

The committee said the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission should now step in and investigate the procurement of the project and even the failed implementation.

The Vice Chair Mr Kareke Mbiuki (Maara) expressed his worry over the misuse of money since the committee had approved Sh7 billion for the project and it has been told that the money was exhausted, yet only a very small portion of the project had been done.

"The outcome is less than twenty percent. The government was expecting an average of 40 bags an acre, what we are getting is ten bags an acre, and that is why we are calling for an investigation," said Kareke.

The vice chairman said: "In view of the bungled manner in which the project is being implemented and the further massive financial losses being incurred by the Kenyan taxpayer, the committee is of the view that the entire contract be suspended and a re-evaluation be undertaken."