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Sh635m projects in Chebara lie in ruins

RIFT VALLEY
By Stephen Rutto | May 15th 2021
Stalled dining hall at Chebara girls high school in Elgeyo Marakwet County on May 9, 2021.  [Christopher Kipsang, Standard]

When the State sought for land to construct a dam to supply water to Eldoret town in 1997, residents of Chebara in Elgeyo Marakwet heeded the call after they were promised that in return, five learning institutions would be constructed for them.

In 2012, the construction of Chebara Boys and Girls secondary schools, Chebara and Kaptomut primary schools and Chebara Vocational Training Centre, as well as Chebara African Inland Church, were started at the total cost of Sh635 million.

From 1997 to 2012, the State pledged to move the institutions to public land on areas bordering the dam, which was established to supply water to Eldoret town. But today, the multi-million projects lie in ruin.

Abandoned since 2016, the walls to the building and their roofs are now rotting away. Plants have since sprouted and engulfed some of the buildings while some have been vandalised.

Except for Chebara Girls, other institutions are still using old buildings adjacent to the dam. The Vocational Training College, which is on the edge, was moved a kilometre away to semi-permanent structures awaiting the completion of the new buildings.

Now local residents, led by Daniel Chemweno, have called for investigations into the abandoned projects.

“The buildings are rotting away, and we fear they will soon be condemned. It is shocking the State pumped Sh635 million in the projects and later abandoned it,” Mr Chemweno says.

Millions worth class rooms stalled at Chebara boys high school in Elgeyo Marakwet County. [Christopher Kipsang, Standard]

Chemweno, a former project committee member, claimed the money for the projects had been set aside as early as 2008 but there was a delay in releasing the cash which made work on the project to stall.

“There was a lot of confusion. Sometimes the money could be released through the Ministry of Education and at times through the Water ministry,” Chemweno said.

Stolen materials

Another resident, Abdi Choge said building materials abandoned on the site by contractors have been stolen.

He says windows and roofs have been vandalised after years of neglect. “These projects would have improved the economy of Chebara. We are asking government agencies to investigate this matter.”

William Kiprotich, a pastor at Chebara AIC, said congregants have been waiting to use the new church, but it remains stalled after a contractor stopped construction works without installing the roof.

“We will be holding prayers in the stalled church project towards the end of the month, before we hand it back to the government. We don’t want to associate ourselves with a stalled project,” the cleric said at the site.

In Chebara Boys Secondary School, more than 16 classrooms, an administration block, laboratories are wasting away while the construction of a dining hall at the nearby Chebara Girls was abandoned.

At the Vocational Training College, the deserted buildings have bushes growing in them and the land it sits on is yet to be fenced.

Stalled A.I.C Chebara Church in Elgeyo Marakwet County. [Christopher Kipsang, Standard

In 2014, it was established that the cost of the projects was rising and that an additional Sh160 million was required to complete them.

By 2016, the money had not been released, stalling the projects that are between 80 and 95 per cent complete despite the government indicating that Sh77.5 million out of the Sh160 million had been released in the 2015/2016 financial year.

Water and Irrigation Principal Secretary Fred Segor said the Sh77.5 million released by Treasury was transmitted to Lake Victoria North Water Works Development Agency (LVNWWDA), the implementing agency, in 2016.

The Kakamega-based LVNWWDA was known as Lake Victoria North Water Services Board and managed water and services in the Western and Rift Valley regions.

“Refer to the recent transmission of Sh77.5 million by the Ministry to the board’s bank account. The said funds are earmarked for payment of long, outstanding resettlement and compensation costs that arose from the Chebara Dam project,” Prof Segor said in a letter to LVNWWDA, dated February 11, 2016.

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