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New contractor sought as plan to revive Itare Dam project

RIFT VALLEY
By Kennedy Gachuhi | April 14th 2021
National Development Implementation Committee (NDITC) comprising of Principal Secretaries from different Ministries led by Tourism PS Safina Kwekwe (centre) being taken through the stalled Itare dam project in Ndoinet, Nakuru County two years after its operations came to a halt on January 28, 2021. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui has said that negotiations are underway to resume construction of Itare Dam.

Addressing the press, Mr Kinyanjui said the Kenyan and Italian governments were holding talks to have the project back on track this year.

"I have been engaging the national government and President Uhuru Kenyatta has assured us the project will resume soon. The two governments are in close contact,” he said.

The governor explained that the agreement between the two nations, which have strong diplomatic ties, still stands and was being reviewed by the Ministry of Finance. "This was a bilateral finance agreement between Kenya and Italy. What collapsed is the contractor’s capacity and not the finance agreement, which is still active. The Ministry of Finance is repackaging the agreement then we can re-tender the project."

Kinyanjui expressed optimism that the project will resolve perennial water shortage problems in Njoro, Molo, Rongai, Bahati, Nakuru town and parts of Gilgil.

In January, President Kenyatta instructed principal secretaries from different ministries, who make up the National Development Implementation Technical Committee, to inspect the project.

Under the previous agreement with the original contractor, the project was set to be completed by April this year. But according to the Rift Valley Water Works Development Agency, the timelines are likely to be pushed to 2023.

The agency’s Chief Executive Officer Hosea Wendot told The Standard in a past interview that the contractor had only completed the dam foundation, a treatment plant and an outlet tunnel.

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Mr Wendot explained that what was left of the project would take a new contractor at least 18 months to complete.

In December 2019, detectives from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations questioned high-ranking government officials, including the then Water Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui, Ex-Finance CS Henry Rotich and Devolution CS Eugene Wamalwa over alleged plunder of funds meant for the dam.

The officers also questioned former board members of the Rift Valley Water Works Development Agency who served between 2012 and 2015 when the project was conceived.

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