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President Uhuru Kenyatta takes on Raila Odinga over Sh38 billion Itare dam

By Steve Mkawale | February 11th 2017
President Uhuru Kenyatta addressing residents of Total area in Nakuru County on February 11, 2017.PHOTO: KIPSANG JOSEPH

President Uhuru Kenyatta has defended the Sh38 billion Itare dam project that has caused a political storm In the South and Central Rift region.

The Head of State took swipe at Cord leader Raila Odinga telling him to stop politicizing projects initiated by his government.

Speaking in Nakuru County where he intensified his campaign to mobilise residents to register as voters ahead of February 14 deadline, the president dismissed assertion that the project was meant to benefit only one community saying the Opposition leader was trying to incite ethnic hatred.

Mr Odinga has been in the forefront in raising objection to the project funded by the Italian government arguing that if completed the dam would divert water from the Mau forest , causing some rivers to dry up.

Two weeks ago, during the inaugural National Super Alliance (NASA) rally in Bomet County, the ODM leader hit at the Jubilee government for carrying out the water project despite protest from locals.

The ongoing water project has sparked controversy among leaders in Bomet, Kericho, Nakuru and Narok residents.

Kipsigis Council of Elders who invited the former Prime Minister to intervene on the matter, claim the project will divert water from the Mau Forest, causing rivers, such as Chemosit, Kipsonoi, Ndoinet and Sondu, to dry up. The elders said the project will lead to an ecological disaster.

On Saturday President Uhuru dismissed the claims by those opposing the project saying international donors wouldn't have funded it if there were negative impacts.

"Kenyans must differentiate between development conscious leaders and those seeking to divide them along ethnic lines and opposing everything the government does," he said.

The president added: “how can someone claim a project like Itare dam was only meant to benefit the Kikuyus?" Mr Kenyatta posed.

He was in Nakuru County, one of the Jubilee strongholds in the vote rich Rift Valley region where he declared that the August 8th polls will be decided by the youth who must register as voters.

"As young people the future of this country lies in your hands. You must come out to register as voters so that you elect the leaders you want," Kenyatta said.

Local leaders including Governor Kinuthia Mbugua, County Assembly Speaker Susan Kihika, local MPs David Gikaria (Nakuru Town East), Samuel Arama (Nakuru Town West), Njoro's Joseph Kiuna, Jacob Macharia of Molo and several aspiring politicians accompanied hiim.

Rongai MP Raymond Moi joined the President's entourage at Salgaa trading centre where he told the President that the resident had waited for long for a lorry parking bay that was stopped due to controversy.

Uhuru said the national and county governments would revive the project.

The Head of State later proceeded to Gilgil and Naivasha and completed his tour in Mai Mahia on his way to Nairobi.

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