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Lower Tana residents urged to move to higher grounds

Residents of Lamu, Tana River and Garissa Counties living in areas prone to flooding by the River Tana have been urged to move to higher grounds as those areas will flood soon.

A team of senior government officers led by the Eastern Regional Security Committee said the five dams that regulate the river’s flow in the Seven Forks system have been full since last week. The dams are no longer retaining any water from the Western Mt. Kenya and Aberdare catchments of the River Tana.

“With heavy rains still pounding the catchment areas the flow is expected to increase with obvious consequences downstream”, said the Eastern Regional Commissioner (RC), Isaiah Nakoru at Kiambere Dam at the end of a day-long tour  on Wednesday.

Nakoru  said the Seven Forks Dams were built for the purposes of regulating flooding in the lower Tana, hydropower generation and agricultural development but said they cannot hold back all the water when there’s unusually high rainfall in the catchment.

He noted that the dams had served their purpose well so far but sometimes cannot cope with the enormous amount of water like now when there had been extraordinary rains in the catchment.

Nakoru, who was accompanied by the Tana and Athi Rivers Development (TARDA) Managing Director, Steven Githaiga Ruimuku and the KENGEN Eastern Regional Manager, Eng. Julius Odumbe, said siltation continued to have an adverse effect on the life of the dams and their capacity to store extra water and urged farmers in the catchment areas to avoid practices that encourage soil erosion.

He  said National Government Administration Officers will enforce the ban on cultivation of riparian areas but said more needs to be done.

He urged Kengen and Tarda to work with farmers in the catchment areas to see to it that all riparian lands are reclaimed as conservation areas and planted with suitable tree species to control soil erosion and subsequent siltation of the dams.

He revealed that plans to dam the seven rivers that rise from the Eastern Mt. Kenya and the Nyambene Hills  were underway with the government studying if concessioning the building and operation of the proposed High Grand Falls Hydroelectric Dam in Tharaka Nithi County was the best option. It is estimated that the dam will cost a staggering Sh.150 billion.

By  Steve  Gatheru

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