Tana and Athi River Development Authority (TARDA) is set to embark on desilting of sand at Kiambere and Masinga Dams.
The TARDA Chairman Joe Mutambu made the revelation when he paid a courtesy call to Kitui Governor Dr Julius Malombe and Kitui County Commissioner Mr Erastus Mbui at their respective county headquarters offices in Kitui town.
Mutambu said that all stakeholders would be involved to ensure that sand harvesting activities would go on smoothly.
The leaders consulted in depth on modalities of engaging all the relevant stakeholders to ensure the exercise is carried out prudently for the benefit of local communities and environmental sustainability.
“The Kiambere Dam is under threat of silting by sand and needs urgent desilting activities especially sand harvesting to remove the sand and livelihood of thousands of residents who depend on the water from the dam,” said the Mutambu.
The TARDA chairman advised for inclusion of all other stakeholders including carrying out public participation of local communities and leaders on the planned sand harvesting activities in their area, in line with constitution requirement.
“We want to loop in and listen to the views of all concerned parties before beginning the exercise to ensure it is conducted in the interest of affected wananchi,” added Mutambu.
Mutambu said the desilting was meant to rid the dams of accumulating silt due to the ongoing rains and restore their full water capacity to guarantee dependent communities adequate and uninterrupted supply of clean water and electricity.
On his side, Governor Malombe noted that the planned sand harvesting at the dam was vital since the Kiambere Dam is source of water for thousands of residents in Mwingi town and other area who depend on Kiambere- Mwingi Sewarage and Sanitation Company.
“The company is one of sources of revenue to our county government and has employed many staff. Also, the water offers employment to hundreds of residents in Mwingi region who use the water in various income generating activities for their livelihood,” Dr Malombe said.
Malombe also affirmed his administration commitment to working closely with TARDA towards success of the desilting exercise.
“Kiambere and Masinga dams provide water and electricity to the larger Mwingi and Kitui regions respectively. That’s why we are keen to ensure the process is done in a consultative manner,” said Malombe.
He further insisted that a public consultation would be done to get residents views on this.
“We will seek to agree on how the local communities will be gainfully engaged, what will happen to the scooped silt (sand), among other issues so that everyone’s interests are safeguarded,” he emphasized.
Malombe further observed that revenue that would be raised from the sand harvesting activities would be pumped back to helping communities through funding of the community’s desired projects.
CC Mbui welcomed the TARDA for the decision to remove the sand, noting that it posed a threat of water scarcity should the dam dry up due to the silting.
The County Commissioner who also is the Chairman of the county security committee said that security measures would be in place to ensure the sand harvesting activities went on smoothly.
In the year 2019, during similar sand harvesting activities at the dam, local residents living the dam area paralyzed the exercise by preventing trucks from accessing the dam.
The local residents staged a demo, removed roads culverts and damaged trucks ferrying the sand. They were protesting on failure of being involved in the sand harvesting activities at the dam by the concerned authorities.
By Denson Mututo and Charles Matacho