The Timely completion of Sh24 billion Kariminu II dam, one of the government’s flagship projects in Gatundu North Sub County, hangs in a balance after a fresh stand-off between residents and the government over compensation delays.
Local residents who surrendered the 383 acres for the second phase of its construction are up in arms with the government, after months of delayed payment, vowing to block excavation works at the site.
They held a protest on Wednesday ejecting all the workers from the site in the full glare of armed police officers, saying they will only back off once they receive their full Sh2.2 billion compensations.
Led by Kamau Gathanji, they said excavation works on the land is ongoing against their earlier agreement with the government that they will start getting their payments by December last year.
“We gave the land to the government for the construction of the dam and we were promised to wait for compensation several months ago. We are, however, shocked that the land is being excavated even before we get our pay,” said Gathanji.
Jane Wanjiru, another resident, said the land was their only source of livelihood and they had not cultivated this season to allow for the construction of the dam.
She said they needed the money to move out and start new lives elsewhere.
“We can’t fight the government; we hope that this matter is resolved. These frustrations are making us hopeless and we need to have our lives back,” said Wanjiru.
They called on the National Land Commission (NLC), which has been executing the compensation exercise and the Athi Water Services that is implementing the project to intervene and solve the prevailing tussle to allow smooth construction works to go on.
The Dam which is expected to be completed by mid-next year is expected to boost water supply in Thika, Juja and Ruiru Sub Counties and parts of Nairobi City County.
It is funded by the government and the China Exim Bank and implemented through a joint venture between International Holding Corporation (AVIC) and Shanghai Municipal Engineering Design Institute.
The efforts to seek a comment from the two mentioned government entities were futile. However, an officer from Athi Water Services who sought anonymity, blamed NLC for delaying the payments, saying they had finalized all the documentation.
Its construction began in 2019 and has seen its fair share of frustrations from residents due to compensation challenges in phase one.
The dam is built on a 600-acre piece of land. It will be 59M high and will have 26.5 Million M3 storage volume.
By Muoki Charles