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Itare Scam: Dam suppliers cry foul over unpaid millions

A section of the stalled Itare Dam project in Kuresoi South, Nakuru County. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

The stalled multi-billion shilling Itare Dam project might have sunk with billions owed to local suppliers and contractors.

This unfolded as Water Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki declined to give a statement on the future of the project and the fate of unpaid suppliers, saying that the matter was still under investigation.

“The government has the interests of Nakuru people at heart. The matter is with the Directorate of Criminal Investigations. Until after it is concluded, I cannot give details on the project or any plans,” said the CS.

On the claims that the Italian contractor, CMC Di Ravenna, had moved to court seeking to block any move that would see it lose the contract, Kariuki said that she was not aware of such a move.

Declared bankrupt

“I am not aware of such a case filed by the contractor against the government either locally or outside the country,” she said.

And as Nakuru County residents wait for the government to find a solution to jump-start the project, subcontractors who supplied goods and services to the project are in distress after the Italian company was declared bankrupt.

Speaking for the first time on their plight and the troubles they have gone through due to delayed payments, the subcontractors said they now want the government to intervene.

In an interview with The Standard yesterday, the businessmen who are owed up to Sh35 million for supplying spare parts for machines at the site, said they were engaged between 2015 and 2016.

Construction Machinery at the stalled Itare Dam project. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

“We supplied spare parts and industrial items. We kept the company running. We now wonder who will pay the millions owed to us,” said Kishure Shah, director of Bawani Stores Limited. Shah added that they are suffering in silence as interest on a loan he had borrowed continues accumulating.

Karan Grover said the company owes him at least Sh1 million for services he rendered. Grover told The Standard that he serviced motors, generators, welding machines and water pumps at the construction site. However, efforts to get help from CMC Di Ravenna regarding the matter have not borne fruit. He said some of the responses sent to them from the firm are in Italian, while others do not address their issues.

Tejpal Hunjan of Rift Valley Engineering Works Limited said his company did engineering works for CMC Di Ravenna for the period the contractor was operating in Itare.

“We bought materials locally, fabricated and delivered them. Initially the deal was good, later (it) slowed down and eventually stopped,” he said. Hunjan said CMC Di Ravenna owes their firm over Sh2 million.

CMC Di Ravenna fell victim to auctioneers last year after Barclays Bank attached its 80 vehicles and construction machinery. The vehicles, which had been registered under both the bank and the contractor’s branch in Kenya based on a loan agreement, were attached in an attempt to recover a loan of over Sh700 million inclusive of interest.

The second blow came after an auctioneer attached assorted construction equipment on behalf of a supplier - Longrock Limited. According to court documents, the contractor undertaking the multi-billion shilling project had failed to pay Sh20,690,239 to the supplier, who went to court last year.

Construction of Itare Dam started in 2016 and was estimated to cost Sh30 billion. With a capacity to yield 100,000m3 of water per day, it was expected to serve over 800,000 people in Molo, Njoro, Rongai, Kuresoi and Nakuru Town.  

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