More than 1,600 people spread in 24 villages in Kwale County who will be affected by the construction of Sh.4.8 billion dam project want to be compensated for their land.
The construction of the proposed Mwache dam multipurpose project is meant to harness the flood flows from Mwache river basin for domestic water supply and irrigation in Kwale and Mombasa counties.
Mwache Dam is an 87.5 metre-tall concrete gravity dyke, impounding 118 million cubic meters for water supply and irrigation and is expected to boost the water supply fortunes of the two coastal counties that are both tourist hubs.
The villagers’ representative, Shaban Ndegwa said the ambitious project is expected to kick off soon yet the compensation process for their land to be acquired for the project has not been concluded.
“We are anxious about this dam project that will force us out of our ancestral land without an appropriate compensation plan,”Ndegwa said.
He said poor villagers are apprehensive that they will be forced from their homes to make way for the water project being implemented under the Water Security and Climate Resilience programme without sufficient compensation.
“We submitted our proposals and demands to the national government through the local Mwache dam project committee long time ago but we are in the dark on any progress being made,” said Ndegwa at Fulugani village in Kinango sub-county.
The Kinango constituency MP, Benjamin Tayari said the locals are not opposed to the project implementation but only wanted compensation before they move to pave way for the project to be implemented by the Ministry of Water and Sanitation.
“As elected leaders, we will not allow our people to be evicted without adequate compensation to start livelihoods elsewhere,” said the MP adding that in the past compensation to affected people has always either been denied, delayed or just insufficient.
On his part, the Kwale Governor, Salim Mvurya said his administration will ensure that all legal processes are followed in as far as land acquisition for mega public projects is concerned to avoid cases of injustices.
He called for a fair and just land valuation process and compensation policy to minimize social, economic and cultural impoverishment of the communities near the dam site.
Mvurya said his regional government will work closely with the National Land Commission (NLC) to solve cases of historical land injustices.
The county boss reassured residents of areas affected by major projects such as the Mwache dam project and the expansion of the Diani airstrip that strict measures have been put in place to ensure that all compensation processes are fairly and legally effected.
He was speaking in his office when he received NLC Commissioners, Kazungu Kambi, Prof. James Tuitoek and Murimi Mutugi who were on a familiarization tour in the region.
“We urge those who are affected by development projects in their areas to remain calm and allow the NLC and other relevant institutions to perform their mandate in solving such cases,” said Mvurya.
Kambi, a former Labour Cabinet Sectary said NLC will make sure that proper compensation channels were followed so that all those affected are fairly compensated.
By Hussein Abdullahi