Mwea rice farmers disappointed over diversion of millions

Mwea rice farmers and stake holders have expressed disappointment after Sh 507 million for the Thiba dam was diverted to Bura Irrigation scheme.

Led by Ronald Mutugi and Jeremiah Kibicho, the farmers claimed the National Irrigation Board (NIB), top leadership was to blame for the diversion.

They said the mega project whose construction works were set to start in August 2015 and end by next year was yet to commence due to an outstanding Sh 1.5 billion compensation.

Early Last, year, they claimed the then Principal Secretary for Agriculture Cecily Kariuki while on a tour of the dam site promised to ensure the Sh I billion the land owners where the project is to be established were demanding was paid by the Treasury.

The 721 Families had not been fully compensated and told Kariuki at the time to do all she could and ensure the balance was paid.

The chairman of the families Ceaser Njagi yesterday said he was shocked to learn later the Sh 1 billion the Treasury released for the purpose was put by o to another use by the NIB.

”Had the Board paid this money to the land owners and then pay the Sh 507 it diverted last week, the construction of this Vision 2030 flag ship project would start immediately, but we have now lost hope” he said.

The project has two components which include the dam site and the Irrigation area within Kandongu village where a contractor who will do the canals and feeder ones is already on the ground.

”This contractor came to the site in January this year but since he is yet to be issued with a letter of commencement by the Board, cannot do anything,” claimed Mutugi.

The stake holders are now calling on President Uhuru Kenyatta to intervene and order for the release of the funds to have the stalled project started.

Area political leadership led by Governor Joseph Ndathi has expressed same disappointments pointing an accusing finger to the NIB.

”We have made several efforts to talk to the Water and Irrigation Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa who has been giving us hope but going by the diversion of the Sh 507 billion last week , something urgent should be done to put the mega project back on track,” he said.
The decision to divert the funds was reached by the National Assembly on June 8 when it passed the second supplementary budget 2016/2017 on the advice from the NIB.

The Board Acting General Manager Gitonga Mugambi when contacted yesterday said the Sh 507 was diverted from the proposed Nthakwa dam in Machakos to Mbura and not from Thiba dam.

”This was a typographical error and I can assure the stake holders the funds set aside for Thiba dam are safe and would do everything possible to protect this project, ” he said.

He also said he has referred the issue of the Germany constrictor to the Attorney General after he declined to surrender 30 per cent of the lucrative tender to the locals as required by the Public Procurement Act 2016.

The contractor has insisted he was awarded the tender way back in 2015 before the Act came into effect.


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