The Bura MP, Ali Wario has urged government investigative agencies to move in and investigate the now stalled shs. 7 billion 26 km gravity canal project for Bura irrigation scheme.
The project that was conceived in 2013 and was supposed to take less than 2 years to be completed was to connect the main irrigation canals from Korakora canal gravity intake with Nanigi main canal and feed farms in Bura through gravity.
This was supposed to save National Irrigation Board (NIB) millions of shillings that it incurs to pump water using diesel generator from river Tana into the canals.
Addressing the press after touring the stalled project in Dirime area, an infuriated Wario termed the project as a ‘cash cow for NIB officials’.
“I have information that NIB officials want to re-award the contract without following the due process to one of the sub-contractors so that they can swindle the money that has been allocated to the project next financial year,” Wario said.
The MP said according to records already shs. 2 billion had been paid to the contractor between 2013 and 2017 before he (contractor) abandoned the site 2 years ago.
“Shs. 2 billion is not ordinary change. This is huge amount of money that could been felt on the ground. But as we speak there is nothing on the ground to reflect this kind of money that has been paid to the contractor,” Wario said.
When the press toured the two sites that are less than 2 kms apart, abandoned machineries and containers is what we were met with. Camp sites and abandoned buildings were being consumed by the wild ‘mathenge’ tree.
The daytime watchman, Mohamed Balaga said the contractor left the site just before the last general election. There are two other night guards manning the sites.
“The 3 of us have not been paid our salaries since then. we have been receiving phone calls with empty promises and latest was that we were to be paid before the end or Ramadhan. however nothing has come out of it,” Balaga said.
“To be honest Kenyans are taken for a ride by a few greedy public servants whose only motive is to use such projects to swindle public funds. It is my appeal to the offices charged with fraud investigation to get to the bottom of this matter.
We cannot allow shs. 2 billion to just disappear just like that. Somebody must be held responsible,” Wario said.
“The government intention in this project was good. It was a life changing project to the residents of Bura who are now languishing in poverty,” he added.
He blamed NIB officials for the stalled projects, noting that he had personally tried to inquire on the status of the project but he was instead being taken round by ministry of agriculture and NIB officials who are tasked with overseeing the project.
Efforts to reach NIB officials overseeing the project did not bear fruits.
The project has since its inception encountered numerous challenges. At one-point casual labourers working for the contractor demonstrated demanding for wages that had accumulated for over 10 months.
By Jacob Songok