Ministry lifts ban on paying Thwake dam land owners


Eugene Wamalwa, Irrigation secretary. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NMG

The Irrigation ministry has lifted a ban on compensating landowners imposed in April to pave the way for building the Sh62.3 billion Thwake dam project.

Eugene Wamalwa, the Irrigation secretary, told MPs that the National Land Commission (NLC) would commence paying the remaining farmers by the end of next week.

“Our audit committee has received full support of residents and they have concluded the audit process. We will lift the ban we imposed and continue with compensation this week,” Mr Wamalwa told the National Assembly’s Agriculture committee.

He told MPs that compensation was stopped following complaints that the money had not been factored in the budget.

Mr Wamalwa said the NLC had so far paid Sh1.4 billion to land owners when the claims were made. “This project will bring over 100,000 acres under irrigation. It will provide water to over 1.4 million Kenyans in Machakos, Kitui, and Konza. It is one of the Vision 2030 flagship projects,” Mr Wamalwa told the Mohamed Noor-led committee.

He said the project would soon be launched after legal issues on the award of the tender to China Gezhouba Group, the lowest bidder, are concluded.

“We are on cause to launch this project after issues pitting two Chinese firms, which fiercely fought for the tender, were determined by the Public Procurement Administrative Review Board (PPARB),” Mr Wamalwa told MPs.

PPARB dismissed former Irrigation PS Mwangi Nduati’s award of the contract to Sinohydro Tianjin Engineering Limited and gave it instead to China Gezhouba Construction Group Corporation.

The firm, which put in the lowest bid of Sh36.9 billion, had moved to PPARB to challenge Mr Mwangi’s decision.

The board was critical of Mr Nduati’s decision to ignore advise from the Attorney-General and the African Development Bank, a co-financier of the project.