Structural failure led to Solai dam tragedy, team says

Roy Lumbe @lumbe_roy

A report by the Ministry of Interior multi-agency team on the deadly Solai dam tragedy has cited structural failures and negligence as major contributors to the collapse of the dam that killed more than 40 people.

The 79-page report revealed that there was clear evidence the earth wall of the Patel Dam had started failing much earlier before the fateful day and no attempt was made to rectify it.

Investigations conducted between May 9 and 19 blamed the use of substandard materials in the construction, noting that the original walls were increased by six metres to collect more water.

“The dam may not be classified as earth fill or rock fill dam with clay core or homogeneous earth fill dam. The soil material appears to be random fill that has little or no compaction. The random material appears porous,” read the report.

It found there was no reinforcement on the embankment slope of the dam which should have been fitted with a riprap protection to enable the structure to contain water waves.

The team, under the leadership of Rift Valley Regional Commissioner Mongo Chimwaga, has recommended that the dam be relocated to a safer ground.

“Even with proper design and maintenance and approval by statutory authorities of the dam, its relocation is a prerequisite because such natural calamities are likely to occur in future endangering the safety of the community,” it reads.

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