Chemosit residents in Kericho County are up in arms against Kenya Tea Development Agency’s Setet Hydro power project for what they termed as reneging on the agreements they had entered before the commencement of the project.
The residents led by Chemosot member of County Assembly MCA William Soi said that the Kenya Tea Development Agency KTDA and the project Contractor; EPC Contractor US Hydro /PVT ltd. reneged on the agreements the residents of Chemosit had entered into with them.
They said the two parties changed the initial route for the tunnel which is supposed to take water from the reservoir to the turbine side away from their shambas and redirected it to follow the road in order to avoid compensating them.
Setet Hydro power project which is funded by World Bank to the tune of Sh1.2 million is intended to supply electric power to region’s five tea factories namely, Litein, Momul, Chelal, Kapkatet and Tebesonik. The project is projected to reduce electricity costs.
The residents complain that by diverting huge volume of water from the river into the tunnel they will be denied access to the water from the river.
They said they had agreed that KTDA and the project contractor had to provide tap water to every home first before starting the project and regretted that the two were yet to provide water yet the project had progressed.
The residents also accused the tea Company and the contractor of failing to fence off the site thus endangering their children and livestock.
They said a chicken has since died after it fell into the deep gorge created to pave way for the tunnel while a cow and a child were rescued after they fell into the tunnel which is under construction.
The MCA said that KTDA and the Contractor must first agree to follow the original drawings and design of the hydro project before the community could allow the project to proceed.
“We will not allow further construction of the project unless we are given a hearing by the national government and the County government on the construction of the Setet Hydro power project in Chemosit River,” he added.
Soi appealed to the Transport, Infrastructure Housing, Urban Development and Public Works Cabinet Secretary James Macharia to visit Chemosit River in Kericho to hear their grievances.
The MCA also urged Water minister Cecily Kariuki and her Environment counterpart Keriako Tobiko to visit the site to see the environmental degradation created as a result of failure by the agency and Contractor to follow the initial agreements.
The youth who have a carwash down the project side complained that if the project was allowed to proceed as it is without alternative sources of water being provided to them, they will lose their only source of livelihood.
A village elder David Chepkwony on the other hand noted if the project proceeded, water downstream would be greatly affected.
By Dominic Cheres