Irrigation pending bills increase to Sh18 billion

The Principal Secretary, State Department for Irrigation Ephantus Kimotho before the National Assembly Blue Economy, Water and Irrigation at Parliament buildings Nairobi on May 22, 2024.

Photo credit: Dennis Onsongo | Nation Media Group

The irrigation department has accumulated Sh18.6 billion in pending bills that contractors and lawyers among others are demanding.

Irrigation Principal Secretary Ephantus Kimotho told the National Assembly’s Committee on Blue Economy that the department owes contractors and consultants Sh3.62 billion.

Mr Kimotho said the department is seeking Sh694 million to pay various law firms.

“We are seeking additional funding from the National Treasury to address the actuarial variations for pensions amounting to Sh1.027 billion,” Mr Kimotho told the committee while defending the budget for the financial year 2024/25.

“We also have pending bills arising from on-lent loans on assets developed and being managed by the waterworks development agencies (WWDAs) worth Sh13.218 billion.”

He said the department is working on modalities of signing agreements on hand-over of assets and liabilities to respective WWDAs to essentially transfer the loan repayments to the asset users.

“The State Department, through its agency, the National Water Harvesting & Storage Authority (NWHSA) has accumulated historical pending bills amounting to Sh18.6 billion,” Mr Kimotho said.

Mr Kimotho told the committee chaired by Marakwet East MP Kangogo Bowen to allocate an additional Sh1 billion towards the completion of the Siyoi Muruny Dam Water Supply Project.

The project, which started in 2014 has been ongoing for the last 10 years despite an initial completion period of the 2018/19 financial year.

“Inadequate budget allocation over the years has delayed its completion. The project is fully funded by the government but delays have resulted in cost overruns amounting to Sh1,217,942,516, including interest on delayed payments,” Mr Kimotho said.

Mr Kimotho appealed to the lawmakers to allocate an additional Sh494 million towards the Galana Kulalu Irrigation project.

“As we transit to the private investor in March 2024, an additional Sh494 million will be required for the final settlement of the Lot 1 and Lot 2 works and also to cater for the reservoir works that will be completed at the end of 2023/24,” Mr Kimotho said.

In Mwea, Mr Kimotho said Thiba Dam has an allocation of Sh2.039 billion comprising Sh1.494 billion donor financing and Sh545 million from the government.

“Additional budgetary allocation is required to bridge the donor funding deficit. Government counterpart of Sh255 million is required to clear pending payment for Thiba Dam construction and cater for Package II ongoing works of the irrigation area civil works.”

The PS said once the Bura Irrigation Scheme that is being rehabilitated is ready, an additional 9,000 acres will be put under irrigation from the current 6,000 acres.

"Why are you starting new projects when ongoing ones have suffered massive budget cuts?” Ongondo Were, the Kasipul MP asked the PS.

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