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Petitioners want Senate to annul Uhuru’s cancellation of dam

COUNTIES
By Moses Nyamori | September 27th 2019
Elgeyo Marakwet Members of County Assembly address press over the cancellation of Kimwarer dam at Iten. [Peter Ochieng/Standard]

Residents of Elgeyo Marakwet County have resisted President Uhuru Kenyatta's decision to terminate construction of the Sh22.2 billion Kimwarer dam.

Through a petition tabled by their Senator Kipchumba Murkomen, the residents want Senate to annul Uhuru’s decision to terminate the dam contract.

The residents have termed the decision to cancel the project illegal.

They said the technical committee constituted to probe feasibility of the dam was not properly established.

The residents want the President's directive to be suspended until their petition is heard and determined.

The petition was yesterday received by the Senate Committee on Justice, Legal Affairs and Human Rights chaired by Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei.

Main opponent

Mr Murkomen has been one of the main opponents of the decision to cancel the Kimwarer dam contract.

A corruption scandal revolving around the contract saw Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich and his Principal Secretary Kamau Thugge hounded out of office and arraigned.

Yesterday, Murkomen and Bomet Senator Christopher Lang'at described the contract cancellation as a political issue that had nothing to do with fraud.

In the petition, two residents - Peter Barng'etuny and Titus Chemase - argue that it is curious that Uhuru picked on Kimwarer and Arror dams for a fraud investigation, while there were many other dams across the country with similar contract problems.

They say implementing the President's recommendations would deny Elgeyo Marakwet people a chance to benefit from State projects.

“The Senate should do everything within the law to ensure the report of the technical committee is not implemented, until such a time that the Senate will determine the said committee is legally constituted,” reads the petition.

“The decision to establish an ad-hoc technical committee to investigate only two projects out of hundreds of projects across the country, and to use the results of that investigation to deny the people of Elgeyo Marakwet County their rightful share of national development amounts to gross violation of the Constitution.”

The petition further questions the ethnic composition of the technical team, which they said went against public service guidelines.

The petitioners further argue that the establishment of the technical committee was not made by the President in writing and under seal as required by Article 135 of the Constitution.

They further claim that the decision not to make the report public was sinister, since the public would be unable to scrutinise the findings.

Legal violations

“The petitioners believe there are serious constitutional and legal violations that emanate from the technical committee’s report," the petition reads.

"These violations touch on among other matters, infringement of the human rights of the people of Elgeyo Marakwet County.”

Uhuru cancelled the project after the committee found that the dam was overpriced, and neither technically nor financially viable.

The committee established that no reliable feasibility study had been conducted on the dam project.

The only feasibility study carried out on a similar project in the county was undertaken 28 years ago.

It revealed a geological fault across the 800-acre project area, which would have negative structural effects on the proposed dam.

Murkomen yesterday said the committee should investigate if the President had powers to cancel the project, and whether the ad-hoc committee had the legal mandate to investigate and come up with a report.

“I support the petitioners’ arguments because we are not interested in whether money was stolen or not. What we want to know is if a legal process was followed in cancelling the project,” Murkomen said.

Isiolo Senator Fatuma Dulo asked the President to reconsider his decision and allow the project to continue.

Siaya Senator James Oronge also supported the petition.

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