Ruto initiates talks on stalled Sh34 billion Itare dam project

President William Ruto during the national thanksgiving service at Nakuru Athletics Club on February 12, 2023. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Nakuru residents have a reason to smile after the government announced plans to resume construction of the stalled Sh34 billion Itare dam project located in Kuresoi.

President William Ruto on Monday said that talks with parties involved in the project were at an advanced stage and will be concluded next week.

“We are committed to ensuring all development projects in the country are concluded. In the next two weeks we shall have completed talks on the Itare dam to pave way for its resumption,” said Ruto.

The Italian-funded project had been slated for completion by April 2021 but stalled in September 2018 after the contractor, CMC DI Raveena filed for bankruptcy in their home country, Italy.

President Ruto has in the past linked the stalling of the project to bad politics by the previous administration aimed at jeopardising development projects in his Rift Valley, turf.

Ruto spoke during a tour of Kings Sapphire project in Bondeni, Nakuru county which has 605 affordable housing units costing between Sh1.55 million and Sh3.5 million.

"We have a plan to construct 200,000 housing units every year. We are having 30,000 units ongoing and another 30,000 units under evaluation," he said.

The President said that the government has already identified land on which more than 500,000 housing units spread across the country will be built.

“The national government is already working in collaboration with 39 counties. The counties will provide land on which we shall construct houses affordable to the locals,” he said.

Itare dam project stalled in September 2018 after the contractor, CMC DI Raveena filed for bankruptcy. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Ruto reiterated that politics would not stop him from taking development to areas perceived as opposition zones and urged leaders from such regions to feel free to work with him.

“No leader elected by Kenyans needs permission from anybody to work with me. We were given a mandate and ours is to ensure we improve health, housing, agriculture, water and security,” he said.

The President said that his commitment to ensuring all Kenyans are equally treated can be affirmed by the recent resource allocation to all counties for development.

“We have allocated all the 47 counties an additional Sh100 million each in grants for industrial and aggregation parks. That is the kind of politics Kenyans want to hear,” he said.

He called on legislators from across all political divide to unite in passing the Housing Fund Bill to ensure success of the affordable housing agenda.

“I Am asking our Parliament to hasten creation of a Housing Fund. This is something that will benefit all Kenyans, especially the poor who cannot afford houses on their own,” said Ruto.

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua said that the housing projects will go a long way in creating jobs.

“We shall have more people becoming homeowners while at the same time creating jobs for our youth. The dignity of our people will be safeguarded,” said Gachagua.

Lands Cabinet Secretary Zach Njeru announced that the Ministry was working on more projects with designs tailored at maximizing usage of space in the available and limited land.

“Our commitment is to go vertical to use the available space and this will go a long way in making the houses cheaper. Where we had 48 houses we now have 605 units,” said Njeru.

Nakuru Governor Susan Kihika said that the programme will go a long way in changing the face of Bondeni slums where the government intends to construct an addition 5,000 units.

“On a seven acre parcel of land we have realized over 600 housing units. We still have over 30 acres of municipal estate which we can progressively work on improving. The residents shall get a priority in the next phase,” said Kihika.