A contractor has been ordered to redo a multi-million irrigation development project in Machakos County after it was declared shoddy and having not been done according to the specified bill of quantities.
Unibee Construction Company Limited was contracted by the National Irrigation Board (NIB) in 2015 to excavate a dam in Mukengesya in Matungulu sub-county, fit it with intake works, auxiliary structures, put up a pump house, undertake piping and construct ten green houses at a cost of Sh.70 million.
The works were supposed to end by May 2016. However, though over Sh64 million has been paid to the company, the community rejected it terming it shoddy.
During a site-visit Tuesday, members of the Machakos County Development Implementation and oordination Committee led by chair Esther Maina were shocked to find that though a dam had been excavated in the area, only two small and badly dilapidated green houses had been erected.
Rusty pipes were strewn all over while maize was growing alongside tomatoes in one of the neglected houses. In the other which had apparently been abandoned, lay a few dusty drip-irrigation pipes. Similarly, one side of the earth walls of the fast-silting dam had obvious signs of seepage while the pump house was also non-functional.
Besides, one side of the perimeter wall had collapsed thus allowing livestock unhindered access to the dam. It was also noted that the unsecured dam posed a great danger to children who could drown while attempting to swim in it.
Irate members of the local community narrated to the committee how the implementers of the project constructed it and left without involving locals. Led by their chairman Charles Ng’ang’a, they said the project had not served them as intended.
They wondered why the polythene used in the green houses project started getting torn only a few months after installation yet those belonging to area residents had been serving them for over five years. “This project was shoddily done and sub-standard materials were used on it. We want that contractor to come back and do the works as per the Bill of Quantities. He has been pushing us to take it over but we fear that it is incomplete,” said Mr. Nicholas Mutungi, one of the village elders.
Another area resident, Sophie Musembi who is a former area Maendeleo ya Wananwake leader expressed disappointment at the shoddy way the project was executed. “Initially we were excited, but after this, we are very disappointed,” she said and pleaded with the government to ensure that all water projects in the area are closely supervised to avoid a repeat of a similar scenario.
Addressing residents Mrs. Maina who is also the County Commissioner assured them that the contractor will be made to repair the dam, provide proper green houses, train residents on crop irrigation and improve a pump house in the next three months in order to facilitate a hand-over to the local community. “As it is, this project is not helping the locals at all, and it is a great let-down. It is clear that public funds were not utilized properly here,” she said.
Mrs. Maina said the government will ensure the project is completed properly, and asked the residents to accept it once that is done. “We will follow this matter up and once it is properly concluded we will come back here and hand it over to you,” she told them.
Two engineers from NIB had a difficult time trying to explain to the committee why the project had not been handed over to the residents and why it had been forsaken. “Though the initial proposal was to have ten green houses, the contractor had to provide only two after he used money meant for the others to dredge the rocky soils which had not been anticipated,” explained Eng. Willy Katembo.
On his part Engineer Patrick Njiru who is currently in charge of the Upper Eastern and had overseen part of the projects implementation assured that the contractor would be made to come back to reconstruct the water system, provide seedlings, train the locals and repair the Green houses within the next three months.
He was however instructed to be making a progress report to the committee every two weeks.
Also accompanying the CDICC was the Matungulu DCC Abbas Mohammed, his Kangundo counterpart Albert Kimathi and the Presidential Delivery Unit regional coordinator Larry Mulomi. The team also toured the Kangundo Level 4 Hospital to access the utilization of the advanced medical equipment that were given to County hospitals by the National Government.
By Justus Keesi