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Japan concerned about stalled Sh20bn Thiba dam

Japan has expressed concerns over delays in resumption of works on the stalled Thiba Dam project in Kirinyaga County that it has financed to the tune of Sh20 billion.

The dam is meant to increase rice production in the Mwea Irrigation Scheme.

Japan's Ambassador to Kenya, Horie Ryoichi, blamed the delays on differing opinions of stakeholders and land issues.

"It is true the project is delaying a little bit but I believe the problems affecting its construction will be resolved," he said as he toured the multi-million shilling private Nice Rice Millers in Ngurubani town on Sunday.

Accompanied by the National Irrigation Board General Manager, Gitonga Mugambi, the ambassador observed that the project was crucial and its construction should be fast tracked.

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Earlier, Mr Ryoichi, who has been in the country for five months now, visited the rice scheme and the stalled dam site.

Water and Irrigation Principal Secretary Joseph Irungu has sought to assure rice farmers from the region that the project will be completed, even as he admitted that the project stalled in October due to non-payment of the contractor, Strabag Company.

Strabag sent all its 600 workers on the site home, saying it had run out of funds to finance the project and to pay them.

"The money to pay the contractor will be factored in the Supplementary Budget and there should be no cause for alarm," Mr Irungu said.

"The contractor has the capacity to speed up the construction work and the project will be completed in 2021 as it had been planned.”

The project, once complete, is expected to help Kenya double its rice production.

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