Sh7.3bn Bura Gravity project stalls nine years on


Construction work at the commencement of the Bura Gravity Canal Project at Korakora village in Tana River County. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Farmers in Tana River County want the government to prioritise the construction of the Bura Gravity Canal Project to ease the cost of irrigation.

According to the farmers, the Sh7.3 billion project meant to reduce the cost of production has lagged since the groundbreaking in 2013.

"It was set to be finished in two years but nine years down the line, there is nothing to show of it apart from different faces of contractors tasked with the job," said Ibrahim Wayu.

Mr Wayu notes that the high cost of pumping water has hampered the reliable supply of water in the Bura irrigation scheme.

He noted that with the rising cost of fuel, the cost of pumping water has risen, hence the managers in the irrigation scheme have been initiating a dialogue with the farmers on increasing the cost of irrigation.

"The managers are facing it rough, they have to share the burden with the farmers who are not willing to take part, at the end of the day, the Bura irrigation scheme will collapse, it is already overwhelmed," he said.

"Two months ago, we had a water crisis in the rice fields, it affected productivity in the long run, and that is because the water in the river was low and the generators could not supply," said James Macharia, a farmer.

Mr Macharia notes that when water levels fall in the River Tana, the generators break down as the pumps suck mud hence attracting costs to repair and maintain.

Bura Irrigation Scheme uses diesel generators to pump water to more than 12,000 acres of the farm.

According to reports from the National Irrigation Authority, the scheme has four pumps, each with a discharge capacity of 2.7 cubic meters per second.

The pumps are powered by four generators three of which produce a voltage of 600 kilovolt-ampere (KVA) and one producing 505KVA prime power.

The report notes that on average, the generators consume 75liters of diesel per hour.

The multi-billion project touted as a solution to the high cost of irrigation within the Bura Irrigation Scheme was scheduled for completion by September 2015 and is so far clicking its 10th year with barely 60 percent of work done.

National Irrigation Authority Chief Engineer Planning and Design Loise Kahiga said the project is within time frames and taking shape.

According to Mr Kahiga, the challenges faced are as a result of incapacitated contractors have since been resolved hence work on the canal will be completed by July 2022.

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