Construction of the Thiba Dam will be completed by this December while flooding of the facility will commence immediately.
The Project Manager, Eng Stephen Mutinda, said all the major works have been completed.
Mutinda while speaking during a tour of the facility by the Presidential Delivery and Coordination Committee (PDCC) said the dam is now at almost 80 percent complete.
“With these major works now completed what is remaining will be done within now and December, when we will officially hand over the mega project to our client the Government of Kenya, he said.
The Committee was also informed of various challenges, which the contractor has been experiencing, including delayed reimbursement of import taxes for the construction equipment.
It also emerged that some legal challenges concerning land compensation where the dam is being constructed had resulted in some delays though the matter has now been fully resolved.
Speaking to the media later, the Chairperson of the Committee who is also the Kirinyaga County Commissioner, Jim Njoka, said his team was convinced the contractor would be able to deliver the Sh20 billion project by the end of this year.
He said once complete, Mwea rice farmers will be able to plant two crops per year since they will no longer depend on rain-fed agriculture.
The farmers within the Mutithi section where the existing scheme is being expanded by 10,000 acres, will use the Dam, which will hold 15 million cubic meters of water.
Currently, the Mwea Irrigation Scheme has 25,000 acres under rice cultivation but upon expansion will now add up to 35,000 acres, which will translate to double production of paddy rice according to Scheme Manager, Innocent Ariemba.
“As from next year upon being handed over, the Dam, rice production in Mwea will double from the current 120,000 metric tons to about 250,000 metric tons due to the double-cropping,” Ariemba told the members of the Committee.
He said the income from the crop, which stands at Sh9 billion will also shoot-up threefold to about Sh20 billion per year and improve the wellbeing of the farmers in the process.
Ariemba said the project commenced in December 2018 and was progressing on well despite some of the challenges the contractor had raised.
By Irungu Mwangi