Chinese contractor gets nod to start Sh36bn Thwake dam project


Water minister Eugene Wamalwa. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The government has given a Chinese firm the go-ahead to start construction of phase one of Thwake Multipurpose Dam after months of controversial tender war at the Water and Irrigation Ministry.

The first phase of the project jointly funded by the government and the African Development Bank will take 56 months to complete. The latter will foot 35 per cent of the cost.

The contract to construct the dam on the border of Kitui and Makueni counties was signed on Wednesday between the ministry and the China Gezhouba Group, the lowest bidder for the project at Sh36.9 billion.

“Thwake is our single largest project and we expect in about 90 days, the contractor will have mobilised personnel and resource to start construction,” Cabinet secretary Eugene Wamalwa said on Wednesday.

Picking the winner of the contract had sparked off a vicious war between Mr Wamalwa and his former PS Patrick Nduati Mwangi.

The Public Procurement Administrative Review Board overturned an earlier decision by Mr Mwangi to award the contract to Sinohydro Tianjin Engineering Limited, which quoted Sh39.5 billion.

READ: Ministry lifts ban on paying Thwake dam land owners

The PS was later redeployed to the Ministry of Industry and Enterprise Development in the same capacity.

The parliamentary Committee on Agriculture also summoned the two officials to explain why the project was in limbo.

Most landowners whose parcels were taken over by the project have been compensated, according to the CS.

The resettlement of families was budgeted to cost Sh2.4 billion and the funds were provided in this year’s budget.

However, the compensation process has been under investigations by various agencies including an internal audit by the Water ministry after the National Land Commission asked for a further Sh1.5 billion.