A row is simmering between landowners affected by the construction of Sh24 billion Karimenu II dam in Gatundu North and the government over delayed compensation for their land.
The standoff could hamper commencement of the dam construction that is expected to be complete in three years.
on Tuesday, residents from Buchana, Kiriko, Gathanji and Kanyoni villages denied the Chinese contractor access to their land as he went to commence operations after Athi Water Services gave him a go, ahead with an undertaking letter last week.
Armed with pangas, the residents said they will not allow any operations by the contractors, until their compensation is settled.
“We will not allow construction until the government compensates us as agreed,” said Nancy Njeri, an elderly woman who is one of those whose land is affected.
The residents claimed the government duped them about the payout process, saying only less than a hundred of those affected have been paid.
However, reports from Athi Water Services indicate that 71 landowners have so far been fully compensated.
They faulted the government for making Sh4.7 billion advance payment to the contractor before finalising compensation of the affected locals.
“The government has imprisoned us. We need the payout so as to look for alternative land and plan our lives. We will not be cowed, by large presence of police on the site, to relent on our demand,” said Joyce Kimani, a resident.
The residents called for a meeting among all stakeholders to iron out the unresolved issues before any operations commence.