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Gatundu North residents vow to oppose new dam near Kariminu


Kiriko, Gituamba and Buchana villages residents in Gatundu North protest seeking a halt of construction of Ndarugo II dam in the area over compensation of their land. [Kamau Njoroge, Standard]

A section of landowners in the Gatundu North site of the proposed Ndarugo II dam have vowed to challenge the acquisition of their land for the project.

Located only a few kilometres from the completed Kariminu dam, the residents claimed 200 of them will be affected by relocations in Mwimuto, Gatei, Kanjuku, Gathaiti, and Watathi villages.

The residents were informed by officials from Athi Water  Works through a series of meetings that the government is intending to build another dam, Ndarugo II costing Sh13 billion and is set to tap water at the intersection of the Githobokoni and Ndarugu rivers displacing about 200 residents.

On Friday, officials of Athi Water Works and consultants were chased away by residents of Gatei, Mwimuto, Kanjuku and Gathaitu where they had convened meetings to explain the scope of work and the affected areas.

At the banks of river Ndarugo where one of the meetings was held, the residents declined to take seats forcing Mang’u assistant county commissioner Lucy Mugambi to plead with them to allow the officials to explain, but residents walked away minutes after the meeting and started chanting songs of displeasure. The chaos at the public consultation meetings for the project has threatened to replicate the past four years when Kariminu dam was being constructed.

Operations at the site have been marred by hitches between locals and the government over compensation for the 600 acres where it sits. In some instances, the residents of Kiriko, Buchana, Gathanji, and Kanyoni where Karimini Dam sits had forced the contractors Avic International Holding Corporation to halt operations claiming locals were not being offered opportunities at the site. 

“We urge the government to consider putting up the dam in other areas to avert environmental degradation of Gatundu North that could affect our farming activities,” said Ng’ang’a Muthua, a former Chania ward MCA.

Hannah Njora, who is in her late 70s, said it would be unfair for the government to move her from her homeland at her advanced age.

Mariga Muiruri claimed officials visited the area in 2017 allegedly to conduct a feasibility study and took samples informing the residents that a proposed dam was to be built in future.

In a separate interview, Gatundu North MP Elijah Njoroge joined his constituents in rejecting plans to build another dam in the area. Njoroge noted that the constituency has for decades suffered from deplorable roads and low electricity connections, among other developments that the government has ignored to deliver to locals.

“We are urging the government to consider constructing the dam inside the vast Kieni forest where they will also save money as it will not be required to compensate any resident of Gatundu North,” said the legislator.

Speaking last week, after touring Jacaranda reservoir in Ruiru and the recently completed Sh 24 billion Kariminu II dam, Water CS Alice Wahome added that her ministry is under instructions from President  William Ruto to make ensure the new project kicks off soon.

Initially, the construction of the dam was proposed to be done downstream of Ndarugo and Githobokoni confluence but due to the huge number of people who were to be displaced, it was re-designed to be constructed upstream where only 200 people would be displaced. 

The CS assured the affected persons that nobody’s land will be taken away without proper compensation.

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