A parliamentary committee on agriculture now wants the Finance Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich to hasten the process of waiving duty on equipment a contractor for the Thiba dam in Kirinyaga County has imported.
The committee wondered why the CS was taking too long yet the duty waiver on the equipment was clearly spelt out in the Sh. 19 billion contract.
Led by Vice Chairperson Emmanuel Wangwe, the Committee learnt that due to the delay in having the equipment exempted for duty at the port of Mombasa, the contractor has only done 17 per cent of the works.
The contractor told the Committee the construction was supposed to have surpassed the mandatory 20 per cent by this time but there was nothing he could do.
The Committee had visited the dam site to assess the progress of the mega project when the German contractor raised the matter over delayed waiver for his much needed equipment.
Wangwe ,who is also the Navakholo MP, told the CS to fast track the waiver process to enable the contractor complete the project within the stipulated three years .
Strabag is the Germany contractor undertaking the project who also told the committee 95 per cent of the 420 workforce recruited so far was Kenyans.
The Committee however took issue with the manner in which recruitment of the employees was being handled by the contractor since most of remaining 180 slots have been taken by foreigners hired by the contractor.
“Am told all the unskilled employees were to be sourced from the country with the larger number being allocated to Kabare Ward residents since this is where the dam is situated but this has not been the case,”Wangwe told the contractor.
Mwea MP Kabinga Wachira who was present told the Committee there was an agreement that a task force comprising of the County leadership be put in place to oversee the hiring of the employees.
“We feel there is something wrong with the hiring of employees, a matter that should be fixed urgently before the remaining slots are filled up,” he said.
Wachira further urged the Committee to impress upon the National Irrigation Board to factor in more funds for the project so that the contractor could also supply clean drinking water to the four Wards in Mwea where the expanded rice farming is expected to take place.
Members of the committee also visited the national performance trials farms for BT cotton at Kimbimbi Mwea where they said they would fast track the repealing of the GMO act to enable the farmers benefit from the technology.
The construction of the dam was launched on November 22 last year by President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto
Strabag, the contractor had given word that he would complete the project within three years
The dam is expected upon completion to enable farmer at the Mwea Irrigation scheme grow two crops a year
Production is also expected to double since farmers will no longer depend on rain fed rice production
By Irungu Mwangi