National Super Alliance (Nasa) presidential candidate Raila Odinga has revived his opposition to construction of Itare Dam, saying his interest is to safeguard people’s lives.
At a funeral in Litein in Kericho County, Mr Odinga said he is opposed to the construction of the Sh38 billion project because experts had warned it would affect flow of water in neighbouring countries of Kisumu, Bomet and Nakuru among others.
“Nobody wants to oppose a project that will benefit Kenyans. But if it will harm others, you have to reconsider it,” he told a gathering at the funeral of former Nyanza Provincial Commissioner Isaiah Cheluget.
“We realised its construction would affect other parts of the country. When I came to talk about the dam, I did not come to politick but, [I did so] on the invitation of Kipsigis Council of Elders,” he said.
With a capacity to discharge 100,000 cubic metres of water a day, the 57-metre high dam will be managed by the Rift Valley Water Services Board.
The project, which is funded by the Italian government is part of the national water master plan and is expected to serve 800,000 people in Kuresoi, Molo, Njoro, Rongai and Nakuru towns.
Mr Odinga, though, had come under criticism from the Jubilee administration and some politicians from the region who accused him for seeking political mileage in opposing the project.
He joined the Elders who argued the mega project would cause seven rivers that flow across Kericho, Bomet and Narok counties to Lake Victoria to dry up as their waters would be diverted to Baringo and Nakuru counties.
At the burial of Mr Cheluget, who incidentally was Chairman of the Kipsigis Council of Elders, the former Premier said it was the former PC who alerted him about the possible dangers of constructing the dam.
“We talked about the Itare dam and its effects on the environment. We sat down with experts and realised it truly never involved public participation,” he said.
“It would affect Bomet, Nyamira, Homa Bay, Migori, Kisumu and other areas,” he said.
He described the late as a dedicated and hardworking civil servant who was known across the country for his great service.
He described him as a friend. “His death was a shocker to us. He died just 24 hours after we had our last conversation.”
Mr Odinga was accompanied by Bomet Governor and Nasa pentagon member Isaac Ruto.
Mr Cheluget’s widow described her husband as a hardworking, disciplined but caring man.