Residents want dam relocated over safety

Residents of Kiambogo village at a farm that was partly destroyed when one of the seven dams owned by Mau Flora Farm burst recently. Inset: Farm's manager Mahesh Chavan. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]
Residents of Kiambogo in Molo want owners of Mau Flora Flower Farm compelled to relocate their seven dams for fear they may burst.

They want the dams moved to the lower side of the farm to reduce the risk of a disaster, in case they give in to pressure.

Their fears have been fueled by an incident in April where the largest dam, with a capacity of 190 million litres, was overwhelmed due heavy rains. It destroyed homes and farms.

Gideon Kimani, who lives 50 meters from the foot of the dam, said his family has been living in fear.

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“We fear the dam may burst and wash us away due to the ongoing rains. Water levels in the dam are too high already,” said Kimani.

This came in the wake of last week’s Solai tragedy after Patel Dam burst killed 46 people. Several other people were injured.

“We too fear we may be victims of a tragedy similar to Solai’s. We can’t sleep. I wonder why the investor was allowed to built the dams upper side of the farms which increases the risk of losses in case the dams burst,” Kimani said.

Fraciah Wangeci lost property when the dam burst in April due to heavy rains.

“An outlet discharging excess water and the entire drainage system were damaged before the water started flowing into houses. We also lost crops,” said Wangeci.

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The spilling of the dam’s water also affected River Molo, which later burst its banks, making the area inaccessible. The residents held demonstrations to push the Government to force the investor to move the dams, but police dispersed them.

The residents also want the structural integrity assessment for the dams that were set up four years ago. “The dams are too close to a residential area, a trading centre, schools and churches. It will be a disaster if they were to burst. We would have expected the dams to be constructed near the river, not on the upper part of the farm,” said Joseph Gakungu, another resident.

Mahesh Chavan, the manager of the farm, acknowledged that the largest dam was overwhelmed on April 1, but assured the residents that its structural integrity was not in question. “The overflow was as a result of the heavy rains, not defects on the dam,” he said.

Drainage system

“We are already expanding the dams and reinforcing the drainage system. The dams were constructed with waterproof linings to ensure embankments are not weakened. However, a section of the drainage system was brought down, but has been corrected,” said Mr Mahesh.

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Documents seen by The Standard show the company applied for certification from he National Environment Management Authority in August 2011, but the application is yet to be processed.

KiambogoMau Flora Flower FarmdamSolai tragedyPatel Dam