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Ruto allies dare Uhuru over controversial dams

By Jacob Ng'etich | June 8th 2021

A section of Rift Valley region leaders allied to Deputy President William Ruto led by Turkana Governor Josephat Nanok address a press conference at Masai Lodge in Rongai, Kajiado regarding the stalled projects in the Rift valley region including the Kimwarer dam.[David Njaaga,Standard]

Rift Valley leaders allied to Deputy President William Ruto have demanded that President Uhuru Kenyatta orders the resumption of works on the Sh120 billion dams.

Speaking after a one-day retreat at Maasai Lodge in Kajiado County yesterday, the leaders said the cancellation of the projects including the controversial Arror, Kimwarer and Itare dams was political and the people stand to suffer.

The leaders demanded the resumption of works on the Sh63 billion Arror and Kimwarer dams in Elgeyo Marakwet, Itare (Sh34 billion) in Nakuru, Bosto (Sh21 billion) in Bomet and Sioyoi Muruny (9.2 billion) in West Pokot. 

"We are asking the government to resume construction of the dams. The water will help spur development. We are already looking ahead and believe we will form the next government and implement the two dams that are critical to our people," said Turkana Governor Josphat Nanok.

The construction of the Sh34 billion Itare dam was halted after the contractor, Italian firm CMC Di Ravenna, was declared bankrupt in the home country while construction of Arror and Kimwarer dams was suspended after the Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) launched investigations into the procurement process.

Former Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich and his Principal Secretary Kamau Thugge are among 26 government officials facing 24 charges including abuse of office and conspiracy to defraud in the multi-billion-shilling Kimwarer and Arror dams’ scandal.

The charges were, however, amended and Mr Rotich and a few others will from next week go on trial with Mr Thugge turned a State witness.

In September 2019, President Kenyatta received a report on Kimwarer and Arror dams from the technical committee he formed following revelations that the two projects were overpriced.

The committee noted that the Sh22.2 billion Kimwarer dam was overpriced and the project was neither technically nor financially viable. It also said no reliable feasibility study had been conducted on the project.

The technical committee chaired by Infrastructure PS Paul Maringa and comprising quantity surveyor Julius Matu, Eng Benjamin Mwangi and Eng John Muiruri recommended that the project be discontinued.

The committee found that the Arror multipurpose dam was economically viable and as part of cost rationalisation plan, they prepared new Bills of Quantities (BQ) for a modified dam with its height scaled down to 60 metres at a cost of Sh15.4 billion with power and Sh13.1 billion without power.

The leaders led by Mr Nanok and Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen urged the president to ensure equity in development of the country and warned against dishing out projects as tokenism for political allegiance. 

The meeting comes a week after Uhuru launched mega projects in Nyanza that triggered political debate.  

In attendance were governors Nanok, Stephen Sang (Nandi), Hillary Barchok (Bomet), Jackson Mandago (Uasin Gishu) and Stanley Kiptis (Baringo) and more than 50 MPs and senators.

Others were Speaker of the County Assemblies Joshua Kiptoo (Nandi), Kiplagat Sabulei (Elgeyo Marakwet), and David Kiplagat (Uasin Gishu). 

Marakwet East MP Kangogo Bowen said Rift Valley residents were taxpayers who were entitled to development. He warned that the government risks paying huge amounts through litigation over cancellation of the dam projects without following due process.

"The president should not cancel the projects because of sour relations with the DP; the people in the region are also taxpayers who must be given services," said Bowen.

The leaders formed a 14-member committee to work on a development blueprint for the region, which will be presented to the DP in exchange for their support come the 2022 General Election.

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