Martin Mwita @MwitaMartin
Two mega dam projects in Marsabit and Kitui are among stalled projects, Treasury has revealed, as the National Water Conservation and Harvesting Authority joins the bandwagon of State departments with frozen developments.
Construction of Badassa dam (Marsabit) was initiated in June 2009 with a Sh3.6 billion budget to be fully funded by the State. This was four months after a similar project had been launched – construction of Umaa Dam in Kitui at a tune of Sh2.8 billion, launched in January, the same year.
The two, which were conceived during the GrandCoalition Government era, were to be completed in December and January 2011 respectively at a cost of Sh6.4 billion.
However, the two are clocking a decade without fruition, adding to the list of more than 500 government initiated developments that have either been abandoned or stalled due to funding, disputed tenders or land related issues.
Badassa Dam is currently 50 per cent complete while construction of Umaa is stuck at 45 per cent. About Sh3.3 billion has already gone into the projects with contractors pocketing the larger chunk, even as the debate on wastage of public funds on white elephant projects continues.
A Treasury document on stalled capital projects before the National Assembly, actual cumulative expenditure for Badassa stood at Sh2.1 billion as of June 2018. Umaa had consumed Sh1.2 billion in the same period.
Outstanding project costs currently stand at Sh1.5 billion and Sh1.6 billion respectively with a cumulative amount of Sh3.1 billion required to complete the two.
Treasury PS Kamau Thugge last week told members of parliament, through the document, that Badassa stalled after “excessive foundation grouting work variation”.
“Contractual dispute arose on extension of time in year 2010 which culminated in stalling of construction works and arbitration,” the ministry said on Umaa Dam.
The two are under the Water, Irrigation and Environment sector in the State Department for Water services, as latest MDAs data indicate 545 government projects valued at Sh365.9 billion have stalled in the last 10 years.
President Uhuru Kenyatta issued a directive freezing roll out of new projects until ongoing ones are complete. This latest development on stalled ventures comes in the wake of increased concerns on dam projects which are emerging as new conduits of corruption.
On Monday, Treasury Cabinet secretary Henry Rotich was grilled by the Director of Criminal Investigation (DCI) over Sh63 billion stalled dams.
Rotich, who was questioned at DCI Gerge Kinoti’s office, recorded a statement over missing Sh40 billion which was part of the Sh63 billion allocated for the stalled Arror and Kimwarer dams in the Rift Valley region.
Outgoing National Land Commission (NLC) chairman Muhammad Swazuri is also expected to shed light on the subject with the commission’s role in land acquisition being at the centre stage of the investigation.
Also on the radar is the Kerio Valley Development Authority managing director David Kimosop and other top government officials.
It has emerged that the Sh40 billion includes Sh6.3 billion mobilisation funds released by Treasury as bribery claims hit the projects.
Arror multipurpose dam in Elgeyo Marakwet is being constructed at a cost of Sh38.5 billion.
Italian construction multinational- CMC di Ravenna, that is building the dam is alleged to have bribed senior government officials from a Sh4.9 billion down payment it received last year for the design of dam.
The firm is further being scrutinised for graft linked to the tendering process of two other mega dams in Rift Valley worth more than Sh90 billion. Construction of Kimwarer dam was budgeted at Sh28 billion.
The Arror project is expected to generate more than 60 megawatts of electricity. Once complete, it will occupy more than 10,000 acres, displacing about 1,000 families.
More than Sh6.5 billion will be used to compensate and resettle occupants of the area with the dam projected to enhance irrigation in more than 20,000 acres.
Investigators have questioned why the company was given a down payment yet the land acquisition process by NLC had not been completed.
More than 60 dams are under construction across the country with a good number being dogged by tender manipulation and bribery claims.
Since coming to power in 2013, the Jubilee government has immensely expanded the country’s dam network, in a move to provide water for domestic use and bring more arable land under irrigation.