The setting up of two multi-purpose projects in Arror and Kimwarer in Elgeyo-Marakwet County at a cost of Sh63 billion is set to start after a regional authority invited bids for land to resettle locals who will be displaced.
Kenya Valley Development Authority (KVDA) managing director David Kimosop said the tender for construction of the proposed dam projects and the funds have been secured.
“Construction shall commence once the affected households have been re-settled. In view of this, KVDA seeks to acquire land from private individuals and institutions, on behalf of households to be displaced by the projects,” said Mr Kimosop.
In a newspaper advertisement on Thursday, Mr Kimosop said the minimum size of land sought is 100 acres.
The planned resettlement is expected to end a tussle between residents at the project sites and Elgeyo-Marakwet county government, with the latter last month barring KVDA from undertaking the project until it conducts a fresh public participation exercise.
According to Mr Kimosop, the Arror and Kimwarer hydro-electricity projects will cost Sh35 billion while the Kimwarer project will cost about Sh28 billion. Both are in Kerio Valley region and are meant to produce electricity and boost irrigated agriculture.
Mr Kimosop said more than 800 families would be displaced. The project will cover 4,000 acres. “Displaced families are expected to receive about Sh6 billion as compensation, including swapping of land. They will be settled elsewhere under mutual agreement in the next six months,” said Mr Kimosop.
He said the Arror project, which is expected to generate 60 megawatts of electricity to the national grid, is a joint venture between CMC di Ravena and Itenera of Italy, with a loan from the Italian government.
“More than 10,000 acres of land will be placed under irrigation. The water will also be used by over 100,000 households,” said Mr Kimosop, adding that 50km of road would be constructed and 185 square km of land would be under water catchment conservation.
He said the projects would minimise importation of power and save foreign exchange reserves. “Most families have proposed swapping of land as part of compensation. Measures have been put in place to settle them elsewhere under mutual agreement in the next six months,” he said.
Local residents have welcomed the project and told politicians to keep off. “KVDA is working hard to implement the project for the good of the people. We should support them,” said Kerio Youth Association chairman Joel Kimaiyo, adding that KVDA was implementing the project on behalf of the national government.
The residents said the project would help tackle perennial food shortages in the region by promoting irrigated agriculture, improve infrastructure and establish eco-tourism projects. These could have more benefits that those brought by the county government in the past five years.
Mr Kimosop said proceeds of the project would go to conservation of water catchment areas destroyed by de-forestation.
The Arror hydro-electricity and irrigation project will be the second in Kerio Valley region after the Turkwel hydro-power plant.