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Tales of broken hearts as Kenya Kwanza's hyped projects stall

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

President William Ruto’s ambitious plans to transform the counties appears to be heading off track.

Several development projects have stalled, while others are yet to kick off.

There are fears taxpayers risk losing billions of shillings in projects that have been left at the mercy of vandals after contractors abandoned the sites.

Others have already consumed a fortune in research, design and elaborate launching ceremonies.

So dedicated was the President that he has visited almost all regions across the country at least three times to launch new projects or roadmaps to complete the stalled ones inherited from President Uhuru Kenyatta’s regime, or unveil blueprints for fresh ones.

At some sites, only launching plaques remain. In others, abandoned construction machines and materials lie in solitude and at the mercy of scrap metal thieves.

These projects include large dams, roads, industrial parks, affordable homes, markets and stadiums. 

At the Itare Dam in Kuresoi South, Nakuru, heavy machinery lie abandoned after the project was stalled two years after President Ruto announced plans to revive construction. Its completion was among the election promises he had vowed to execute within his first 100 days in office.

Dream dams

The 27-million-cubic-metre dam was to cure the perennial water problem for Nakuru residents and beyond.

Recently, Water Cabinet Secretary Zachariah Njeru said plans to revive the construction of the Sh34 billion dam were underway.

Another stalled project that the Kenya Kwanza government promised residents of the South Rift region is the piping works on Chemususu Dam in Baringo County, which was to serve a population of 660,000.

Similarly, residents are unhappy of the slow pace in the construction of the Sh2.1 billion Kirandich Dam in the county. “We had confidence in this government, but the delay in implementing the development project is hurting us. We call upon President Ruto to rein in on the contractor at Kirandich dam,” said Peter Koros.

Similarly, work is yet to start at Radat, Amaya and Beregei dams that President Ruto promised residents.

“We haven’t seen any development in the county, it seems that the promises was meant to attract votes,” said Isaiah Biwott, a civil rights activist.

In Western and Nyanza regions, the President’s ambitious projects gave hope to an area where leaders claimed to have been neglected.

President William Ruto during the groundbreaking Ceremony for Kakamega Aggregation and Industrial Park in Likuyani Constituency, Kakamega County. [PCS]

In Kisumu, the construction of Sh1 billion fisheries and research centre in Kabonyo Kanyagwal, which President Ruto launched in October, has stalled. The Head of State had said construction would take one year, and promised to commission it in December.

Yesterday, Nyando MP Jared Okello claimed the contractor had been withdrawn from the site, adding: “Though I wonder the reason it has stalled because the project was fully sponsored by a Hungarian government fishing research centre.”

Mudavadi’s home road

In Siaya, Isaiah Onyango Usoga cites the Dhogoye bridge, which connects Usenge and Got-Agulu, saying it has been one of the grand promises by politicians. And when Ruto visited the area in October during his four-day tour of Nyanza, he promised that works would be completed in 18 months.

But eight months later, the roaring sounds of trucks and tractors have gone silent. With the ongoing heavy rains, locals continue to count loses as the road is now impassable.

Early this year, Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi assured the government was “doing everything possible to ensure that the contractor is back on site.”

In Vihiga County, one of the projects Ruto launched during his tour last year leads to Mudavadi’s home in Mululu. But the 20.8km Mago-Mululu-Wangulu and Lusui-Vokoli roads are almost impassable despite the August 29 pledge.

“What remains here is the plaque that shows when the road was launched. On the ground nothing is going on,” said Phanice Adema of Mago.

Others yet to kick off include the construction of the county industrial park in Luanda that was unveiled by the then Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria in October.

James Omuterema of Luanda said his dream to make money from a soya farm remains a mirage. “We were told the benefit of this park and we thought by the time the long-rain season comes the project would have been completed, but that was not the case,” he said.

The revival of the struggling Mumias and Nzoia sugar companies still remains a pipe dream. Ruto had earlier promised to buy a milling plant for Nzoia to boost efficiency and increase capacity.

Francis Omusala, a farmer, said they are yet to see any changes in the sugar industry. The situation is not any better in the Mount Kenya region. The President’s whirlwind tours of the area are yet to deliver tangible results.

In February, Ruto commissioned 10 affordable housing and water and irrigation projects, markets and roads. He further assured residents of the completion of the stalled projects.

“In Laikipia county, the promise to end the human-wildlife conflict and Rumuruti-Nanyuki road are some of the unfulfilled promises,” said Solomon Kiogora. 

Pre-election charter

In Nyeri County, the Ruring’u Stadium remains ghostly after the contractor left. Only overgrown grass and puddles welcome you.

In Coast, residents are still waiting for Kenya Kwanza to fulfil a myriad promises made on various sectors including the blue economy, land and value addition. President Ruto’s administration last year pledged that the Liwatoni fish complex in Mombasa would finally roar into life, but this is yet to be.

Mining, Blue Economy Cabinet Secretary Salim Mvurya had earlier promised that the plant would start tuna processing by December last year, but the contractor has stopped work following a dispute with government over payments.

Ruto had also pledged to acquire swathes of land and resettle thousands of squatters in the region.

Prof Hassan Mwakimako, who led the crafting of the pre-election charter that was presented to the President, said nothing significant has been implemented from the document that Kenya Kwanza used to woo voters in the region.

“The implementation of Dongo Kundu projects that promised jobs to Coast residents is too slow. The residents are yet to benefit from the plan,” he said.

Former Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa said the President is “steering a ship whose occupants were rudderless and clueless, and therefore Kenyans should not expect any meaningful development from the current regime.”

But the President’s allies believe that financial handicap is to blame for the slow execution, and are optimistic the projects would be implemented. Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale argued that Ruto’s administration was on the right track.

So is Belgut MP Nelson Koech. “I want to assure residents of South Rift that we are working closely to ensure that all the projects initiated by the Kenya Kwanza government are completed. We now have a mill cooperative in Kabianga, which is producing more than one million litres of milk every month,” he said.

Ndaragua MP George Gachaua claimed that some road projects in his area had been delayed by the ongoing rains. “We are expecting to finish a road project by the end of the year,” he said.

[Reports by Isaiah Gwengi, Steve Mkawale, Olivia Odhiambo, Boniface Gikandi, Brian Kisanji, Nathan Ochunge, Anne Atieno, Yvonne Chepkwony, James Munyeki and Patrick Beja]

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