CJ appoints bench to hear case against Sh38bn Itare dam


Construction site of the controversial multibillion-shilling Itare Dam in Kuresoi, Nakuru. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Chief Justice David Maraga has finally appointed a three-judge bench to hear a case seeking to block the construction of the controversial multibillion-shilling Itare dam in Kuresoi South, Nakuru County.

The three are Justices John Mutungi, Kullow Mohamed and Dalmas Ohungo.

The judges will now determine whether the construction of the Sh38 billion dam will proceed or not.

Justice Sila Munyao Thursday revealed that the CJ had appointed the three to hear and determine the matter.

“The Itare dam project case will now be heard by Justices John Mutungi, Kullow Mohamed and Dalmas Ohungo as earlier sought by the petitioners ,”stated the judge.

A section of elders from the Kipsigis, Luo, Kuria, Abagusii and Ogiek Communities who oppose the construction of the multibillion-shilling Itare dam project, had on June 14 made an application seeking for the intervention of the CJ in the matter.

READ: Huge dam on edge of Mau Forest may threaten Maasai Mara

Too weighty

Through their lawyer Mr James Mwamu, the elders drawn from the counties of Kisumu, Migori, Homabay, Siaya, Kisii, Nyamira, Narok, Bomet and Kericho argued that the matter was too weighty and sensitive to be left in the hands of a single judge.

According to the elders, the matter is of public interest and raises serious environmental issues affecting the nine counties.

The case was before the Environment and Land Court in Nakuru.

In the main suit filed in 2016, the elders sued Water and Irrigation Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa, his Environment and Natural Resources counterpart Judi Wakhungu and the Rift Valley Water Services Board for disregarding necessary steps when constructing the project.

The elders complained that the Sh 38 billion project would directly affect their Counties which they say are at the greatest risk of being rendered dry lands.

The affected counties, through their lawyers, had earlier told the court that the dam will result in drying up of seven rivers namely Ndoinet, Songol, Chemosit, Tariganbei, Kipsonoi, Nyongores and Sondu Rivers.

They stated that the construction of the dam in the Mau Water Tower complex will turn the region into a desert in a few years’ time.

READ: ALUOKA: Why Kenya should tread carefully on water dam projects 

Hearing date

The case will now be heard on November 27.

The multibillion-shilling project being constructed at Ndoinet, Kuresoi South in Nakuru County has been riddled with controversy and has faced opposition from varioys people among them former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka.

The mega dam is projected to serve a population of 800,000 people in Kuresoi, Molo, Njoro, Rongai and Nakuru Town.

The project is funded by the Italian government and is being undertaken by Muratori and Cementitsti of Ravenna, Italy, which won the tender in September 2014.

It is the largest of its kind undertaken in the South Rift after the Sh 5.5 billion Chemususu dam which President Uhuru Kenyatta commissioned early this year.

It was picked under the national water master plan as one of the government’s flagship projects.

With a capacity to yield 100,000 m3/day, the 57m high dam being executed by the RVWSB is expected to solve water problems in Nakuru County.