Monday, April 19, 2021
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Multi-million shilling water project dogged by land compensation delays

A billion shilling Ugunja – Sega –Ukwala water project in Siaya County has stalled following delays by the implementing agency to compensate land owners.

And  the locals, led by Ugunja Member of Parliament, Opiyo Wandayi are appealing to the Cabinet Secretary for Water  to move with speed and prevail upon the management of the Rift Valley Water Works Development Agency to release the funds and hasten the implementation of the project.

Speaking to the media on  Saturday in Ugunja, the legislator said more than 50 peasant farmers gave an okay for the project to pass through their lands after they were assured that they would be compensated within weeks, but months later, nothing was forthcoming and efforts to reach the development agency have hit a snag.

Wandayi, the Chairman of the National Assembly Public Accounts Committee, lamented that he was at the forefront of the negotiations with the community to allow the project to proceed pending compensation but has been let down by the government agency.

“At the initial stages, I had to intervene and negotiate with land owners to allow it to start as compensation issue was being addressed,” he said, adding that “months down the line, nothing has happened.”

The legislator blamed the predicament on the decision by the government to place the project under the Rift  Valley Water works development agency based in Nakuru, instead of the Kisumu based Lake Victoria South Water Works Development Agency.

“When we passed the Water Act, 2016, we created roles for these waterworks development agencies to be able to help the national government in terms of implementing certain projects in a timely manner,” he said, adding that the current arrangement in the Africa Development Bank-funded Ugunja-Sega-Ukwala water project was confusing.

The  MP claimed he suspected sabotage in the whole project as the top management of the Rift  Valley Waterworks Development Agency have been ignoring him despite several attempts to reach them. “This could be sabotage because the project is in Nyanza Region or Ugunja for that matter,” he said.

“If I as the MP cannot reach the Chief Executive Officer of the RVWDA, how would a poor peasant farmer from Magoya sub location in Ugunja, whose land was taken reach him and ask on the whereabouts of their money?” he posed.

Wandayi urged the management to come out in the open and tell the affected persons when they would release their funds and also assure the public that the project would not stall on the account of the agency’s lethargy.

The MP further challenged the agency to declare whether the compensation would come with interest because it has taken too long.

The Sh.1.2 billion water project was officially launched by former CS for Water, Sanitation and Irrigation, Simon Chelugui and is designed to serve 77,000 residents of Ugunja, Sega and Ukwala townships in Ugunja and Ugenya constituencies.

During the official launch in November last year, Chelugui said the project was to supply 8,000 cubic metres of water per day in the next 20 years and was expected to increase coverage of clean water in Siaya county from the current 55 per cent to 65 per cent upon completion.

By  Philip  Onyango

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