Fate of Sh63b dams bleak as woes deepen with KVDA boss ouster

Fabian Sommer, the Kimwarer hydro-power project manager, explains the design concept of the multi-billion shilling project. Work on the Sh28 billion project yet to start. [Kevin Tunoi, Standard]
The fate of two dams in Elgeyo Marakwet estimated to cost Sh63 billion remains unclear, as woes continue to stalk an implementing state agency.

The Kerio Valley Development Authority (KVDA) is facing a leadership crisis following the ouster of its managing director David Kimosop on Thursday evening by the authority’s board.

Mr Kimosop, who has been at the helm of KVDA for seven years, was replaced by his deputy Francis Kipkech in an acting capacity.

But things took a new twist after Kimosop declined to pick his termination letter and handover to Mr Kipkech, throwing the Eldoret-based state agency in a spin.

SEE ALSO :Why dams probe may take long

On Friday, the board closed Kimosop’s office after the sacked MD failed to handover to his deputy over unclear reasons.

Our efforts to reach Kimosop were futile as he did not pick our calls.

Amid the succession row, CMC Di Ravenna, the company awarded the contract to construct the Sh35 billion Arror dam and Sh28 billion Kimwarer dam, said they can’t continue with construction works as its bank accounts were frozen to facilitate investigations into an alleged Sh21 billion scandal.

The company also said construction equipment imported for the Elgeyo Marakwet dam projects have been seized due to the firm’s inability to pay import duty following the freezing of its bank accounts.

CMC Di Ravenna project director for Arror and Kimwarer multipurpose dams Mauro Abbafan, said they can’t pay import duty for the construction machinery seized by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) in Mombasa.

Frozen accounts

“We are ready to start the projects, but our bank accounts remain frozen because the authorities are conducting investigations. Our machines have been seized and we can’t do anything,” the official said on Wednesday.

“Our suppliers have stopped delivery of material because of corruption allegations. We are ready to start construction of the Kimwarer dam, but we are facing huge obstacles,” he added.

The seized construction equipment, Mr Abbafan said, include bulldozers, excavators, drilling machines, vehicles among others.

Sources privy to the board meeting that led to the ouster of Kimosop told Sunday Standard that the board sat from 11am to about 7.30pm and was marred by divisions.

Two factions of the board emerged, with one group supporting the sacking of the MD and another rooting for his continued stay at the helm of the agency that is currently managing the implementation of Sh63 billion hydro-power and irrigation dams.

It also emerged from various sources at the Eldoret-based parastatal that Kimosop stormed out of the meeting and declined to pick his letter of termination under unclear circumstances.

“The board members were divided. They spent several hours trying to come to a compromise but failed. Those opposing Kimosop’s ouster at some point threatened to walk out in protest, but later softened their stand.

Yesterday, Kimosop remained adamant and refused to hand over to the acting MD, forcing the board to close his office.

Efforts to reach Kimosop were unsuccessful as he did not pick our calls and has kept away from the KVDA offices. 

The authority’s board chairman Jackson Kiptanui declined to comment on claims of a divided board and released a statement on the resolution to terminate the services of Mr Kimosop. “The board of directors of KVDA met today and resolved to terminate the services of Kimosop as managing director of KVDA with immediate effect,” the former Keiyo South MP said. “The board wishes to assure the public and other stakeholders that the services, programmes and projects of the authority will continue uninterrupted.”

Mr Kiptanui said Kimosop steered the agency to a successful achievement of most of its projects.

Final term

In 2015, when Kimosop’s first term was coming to an end, sharp divisions that reportedly split the KVDA board of directors emerged.

Board members opposed to Kimosop’s re-appointment raised concerns over poor implementation of economic stimulus projects worth more than Sh700 million in Turkana, Elgeyo Marakwet, Samburu and Baringo counties.

Mr Kimosop’s second and final term came to an end in April 2018 and following the board’s request, the former MD was granted six more months as a new MD wasbeing recruited. Devolution Cabinet secretary Eugene Wamalwa renewed Kimosop’s terms in the course of 2018 for unknown reasons.

Controversy rocked Kimosop’s second term following the state’s proposals to establish the multi-million dam projects.

A section of residents in Kipsaiya, where the Arror dam will be established, opposed the projects, saying there was no proper public participation.

Arror and Kimwarer dams would later be stalked by controversy, after reports that the agency had received Sh7 billion advance payment, prompting the DCI to probe the claims.

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Dams probeKerio Valley Development AuthorityFrancis KipkechDavid KimosopArror and Kimwarer