The construction of Thiba Dam will be complete by December 2021, ready to control flood waters and provide water for irrigation, the Thiba Dam Project Engineer, Stephen Mutinda, has revealed.
Mutinda said immersing of the facility with water would commence immediately in readiness to provide irrigation water to rice farmers in Mwea.
He said the project would have been ready earlier were it not for the delay in the approval of the master list which took nine months, translating to slow mobilisation by the contractor and in the payment of duties, taxes and levies.
“Delayed issuance of specific tax exemption caused a delay of approximately eight months but has since been resolved,” he said
Mutinda said the inadequate budget allocation by the National Treasury at one time led to the suspension of works, which lasted for about three months from October 1, 2019 to January7, 2020.
He said currently the contractor has paid some duties to the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) amounting to Sh 372 million that has affected the contractor’s project cash flow.
Out of Sh 372 million requested for reimbursement, only Sh 273 million that had been approved by the Cabinet Secretary (CS) National Treasury for a refund but the contractor has not received the refund.
Mutinda told the County Development Implementation and Co-ordination Committee (CDICC), that they have taken mitigation measures to ensure the project will be completed as stipulated.
He said they have introduced extended working hours for activities on the critical path to catch up on the delayed progress.
“We have also introduced work on Sundays and public holidays, besides deploying staff to work on night shift,’ Eng. Mutinda said.
The Chair of the CDICC Committee who is also the County Commissioner (CC), Kirinyaga, Jim Njoka, said the work progress was impressive in that the major works were now almost complete.
“What is remaining will be done between now and December when the project is expected to be officially handed over to the Government of Kenya,’ Njoka said.
He said the members of the committee were convinced that the contractor would be able to deliver the project by the end of the year.
Njoka said once in place, rice farmers in Mwea, would be able to plant two crops per year since they will no longer depend on rain-fed agriculture.
The Project Manager, John Karanja, said the Dam at completion would hold 15 million cubic meters of water, which will be supplied to the farmers within Mutithi section where the existing scheme is being expanded by 10,000 acres.
Currently, the Mwea Irrigation Scheme has 25,000 acres under rice cultivation but upon expansion will add up to 35,000 acres, which will translate to double production of paddy rice.
“As from next year upon being handed over, rice production in Mwea will double from the current 120,000 metric tons to about 250,000 metric tons due to the double cropping,” Karanja told the Committee.
Mwea Irrigation Scheme Manager, Innocent Ariemba, who was also present said the income from the crop which stands at Sh 9 billion will also shoot up to threefold to about Sh 20 billion per year and improve the wellbeing of the farmers.
He said the project commenced in December 2018 and was progressing on well despite some of the challenges the contractor had raised.
By Irungu Mwangi