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Multibillion-shilling irrigation project at risk of stalling

The World bank-funded Lower Nzoia Irrigation Development Project may soon stall over the failure of the relevant authorities to complete compensation to occupants of the land through which the irrigation canal will pass.

And senior National Irrigation Authority officials are calling on the Siaya leadership to help unlock the stalemate that has dogged the sh. 5.3 billion project that started in 2018.

Speaking in Usonga ward during the Usonga rice farmers’ cooperative society limited annual general meeting, the National Irrigation board’s chief operations officer, Joel Tanui and the authority’s deputy general manager in charge of irrigation infrastructure Charles Muasya said that the World Bank has issued a nine-month notice for completion of the project, failure to which it will withdraw its funding.

Tanui lamented that politics around land has delayed the completion of compensation of individuals affected by the project and urged the local leaders to ensure the existing hurdles were cleared on time.

Muasya said the donors were fatigued and unless quick action was taken, the project will stall.

Siaya governor, James Orengo who addressed the occasion said the county cannot afford to lose the project and called on those concerned to hasten the compensation process.

“I am pleading that we look for ways of solving the existing challenges. We must look for ways of compensating people for their land and property on time to save the project,” said Orengo who was flanked by his deputy, William Oduol and Alego / Usonga Member of Parliament, Samuel Atandi.

Atandi said the local leadership will do everything to safeguard the project and called for harmony and a speedy resolution of the stalemate.

Orengo pointed out that Siaya had no cash crop hence the need to safeguard the project that has the potential of introducing rice as a cash crop in the county.

The multi-billion project was launched in 2018, with the aim of controlling perennial floods in the lower parts of river Nzoia. It involves the construction of a canal that traverses Ugunja, Alego – Usonga and Ugenya constituencies in Siaya county and Budalang’i sub-county in Busia.

By Philip Onyango

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