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Residents want Uhuru to rethink Kimwarer dam

COUNTIES
By Fred Kibor | September 20th 2019
Residents of HZ area in Keiyo South, Elgeyo Marakwet County, where the Kimwarer dam project was to be. [Peter Ochieng', Standard]

Residents of North Rift have criticised President Uhuru Kenyatta's cancellation of a Sh22.2 billion Kimwarer mega dam project, poking holes on the technical team report that recommended its termination.

They said the project would have greatly improved their livelihoods.

The President, on Wednesday, ordered the immediate cancellation of the project on grounds it was both financially and technically unviable.

The decision immediately attracted angry reaction from Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen, who, in a hard-hitting statement, verbally attacked the technical committee that advised the President to cancel the project, claiming they misled him.

"We are consulting as the people of Elgeyo Marakwet and we shall do everything in our abilities to ensure that justice is not only done, but seen to be done to our people," said the area senator.

"They (the Government) would rather default and pay the contractors billions of money for breach of contract than to see our people benefit from the national project. What a shame!" he added.

According to the technical committee, the dam project was found to have been overpriced and would be financially unsustainable since it relies on a costly pumping mechanism to supply water. It was also found to be lying on a geological fault line.

But the residents joined their leader in asking the President to rescind his decision, saying the recommendation was done devoid of their input and the team relied on unfounded information to recommend the dam cancellation.

Threatened to march

They threatened to march to State House to seek answers with the Head of State over the issue, saying they had been denied their right to get development.

“The President should know that his action has greatly shocked us and it is clear it was motivated by political witch-hunt. The technical team never visited this area to seek our opinion,” said Leonard Kimutai, Talal/Kimwarer dam Community Based Organisation (CBO) chairman.

Mr Kimutai said the cancellation was a great blow to the region's prosperity since the project would have offered them an economic lifeline, blaming politics in the whole issue.

"The political machination has now gone full circle because the detractors of the dam project never wanted its construction in the first place. From the onset, we knew the dam project would collapse when reports of embezzlement of funds surfaced,” he claimed.

Victor Kimaiyo, another local, said there had been conspiracy theories from some individuals who wanted the dam relocated.

“The cancellation of the dam project has confirmed our fears that some people in Government did not want it to take off. The President should rescind his decision,” said Kimaiyo.

Boniface Kiptoo said the Jubilee government had given them a raw deal despite supporting it in previous elections.

“This was the only project that made us, as a region, feel in Government. But its cancellation has shortchanged us and we are now being treated as second class citizens despite paying taxes,” said Kiptoo.

Wilson Chumba said the report indicated the area was inhabited contrary to what was on the ground.

Ward reps

Elgeyo Marakwet ward reps told the media in Iten the cancellation was a double tragedy for the region.

“Fluorspar Company has since been closed down and this project would have offered a source of livelihood to residents, but not anymore. We are appealing to President to be merciful. Let another team of independent experts carry out another feasibility study,” said Soy South MCA Jonah Tanui.

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