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Experts say budget for Umaa Dam sufficient

By | March 11th 2011

By David Ochami

Two consultants retained by the Ministry of Water in the construction of the stalled Umaa Dam in Kitui now say the National Water and Pipeline Corporation (NWPC) should complete the dam within the agreed budget.

Speaking at Parliament’s Continental House, Wilberforce Odhiambo and Zablon Oonge told the Lands and Natural Resources Committee that the Sh824 million-budget was enough to complete the project, but added that the cost could go up by 15 per cent as allowed in the contract.

"If the NWPC takes over, it will complete the dam within the contract amount plus 15 per cent additional cost allowed in the contract," said Dr Oonge.

I think it’s honest

He told the committee chaired by Gachoka MP Mutava Musyimi, that the contractor appeared to be responsible and capable of completing the works when they evaluated his bid. He added that the amount paid to the contractor so far is justifiable.

"I think what has been paid so far is honest," he said, but described any other extra demands for payment as frivolous. They said the contractor had received Sh575 million but in some instances he had managed only 20 per cent of the contract specifications.

The committee is investigating allegations of corruption during procurement for the construction of dams and bore holes after Public Works Assistant Minister Mwangi Kiunjuri raised the alarm following his transfer from the Water ministry.

Umaa Dam is situated in Water Minister Charity Ngilu’s Kitui region.

The construction of the dam with a capacity of 2,500 cubic metres of water has stalled after the contractor moved to court, seeking to be paid an additional Sh97 million for work completed.

Not to evict

The contractor also wants the court to stop NWPC from evicting him from the contract.

He said the construction addressed all engineering and safety requirements, adding that original designs were altered following expert advise to address the danger of leakage and porosity and the alteration included in the subsequent bill of quantities.

But Engineer Odhiambo told the committee that NWPC was not under compulsion to accept advise from them, disclosing further that when they met the parastatal’s tender committee it had already pre-qualified the contractor.

"We answered all the questions (asked) and allowed them make the decision (of choosing the contractor)."

NWPC said it would consider taking over the dam in order to complete it.

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