Design of two multi-purpose dams that will cost of Sh63 billion has started in Elgeyo-Marakwet, promising to change the fortunes of the bandit-prone region.
Being financed by an Italian government loan, the dams are being constructed on two rivers — Arror and Kimwarer — in Marakwet West and Keiyo South sub counties respectively, and are expected to irrigate more than 20,000 acres.
Kerio Valley Development Authority (KVDA) managing director David Kimosop said 400 hectares of forest land have been acquired for the two projects from the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) in exchange for 570 hectares from the displaced.
“We shall engage everybody to ensure success of the project. We shall continue to hold joint meetings with the community in a bid to persuade people opposing the project,” said Mr Kimosop.
The area has, for several years, been associated with banditry leading to loss of lives and displacement of people. The Arror dam will cost Sh38.5 billion while the one in Kimwarer area will cost Sh28 billion.
“We shall compensate the families using the international standards and any person who surrendered his or her parcel of land to pave the way for the construction of the dams and will benefit from resettlement programme,” the MD said.
KVDA, through a joint venture between CMC di Ravena and Itenera of Italy, plans to generate 60 megawatts of electricity from the project and enhance irrigated agriculture.
Experts have arrived at the sites following an agreement between KVDA and the community on land compensation.
Seventeen engineers from Europe have for the last two weeks been in Kimwarer and Arror laying ground for construction of the hydro-electric and irrigation project.
“The engineers who include designers and planners are already on the ground and the construction will take a shorter period than anticipated,” Mr Kimosop said.
An initial payment of 41 million euros (Sh4.9 billion) which forms 15 per cent of the total cost has been made for the design of Arror dam.
“The actual construction work is expected to commence in the next six to eight months after the detailed design plan is carried out,” said Mr Kimosop.
“We are in the process of acquiring land for the families to be displaced." Yesterday, Elgeyo-Marakwet governor Alex Tolgos said the project will be a game-changer. “We shall address emerging issues to ensure a speedy implementation of the project,” said Mr Tolgos.