Construction works at the proposed Karimenu 11 Dam hangs on the balance after a section of disgruntled residents threatened to stay put, unless fully compensated to give way for the mega project.
Residents who gave out their land for the project threatened to stop the contractor from undertaking further excavation in the area to push for their due before they relocated upon receipt of their full payments.
Gatundu North Deputy County Commissioner Mr.Baxton Mayabi said locals had registered their protests and grievances at his office and urged the National Land commission (NLC) and National Treasury to speed up the release of the funds to the beneficiaries.
He said the Kiambu County Development Implementation and Coordination Committee (CDICC) went on a fact finding mission and confirmed that some beneficiaries were yet to be paid.
He expressed fears that “Unless they are fully compensated, there is no way that the contractor will embark on excavation work. The community has been co-operative and willing to relocate to other regions where they can purchase land and resettle”.
What the contractor is currently doing is the roads leading to the location of the Dam and the bridges which were to be fixed prior to the construction, he explained.
During the visit of the committee, members were shocked to be led to the boardroom of the site office instead of the construction site. It was then that the contractor explained to the team that some locals had threatened to burn his equipment if he attempted to start excavating the soil before full compensation was made to all the beneficiaries.
The team also toured the site where the dam will be located and Project Engineer Michael Thuita explained to them that the actual structure could lay on only 5 acres and that the beneficiaries had been compensated.
Beneficiaries who talked to the team at various locations said they were ready to vacate the said land so long as they were all compensated and not just a few. Some questioned the criteria which was used in the payment of the initial 93 saying it was done selectively.
During the tour, Kiambu County Commissioner Mr. Wilson Wanyanga assured the contractor of his security and that of his equipment. He instructed Mr. Mayabi to ensure that he provided the contractor with security which would enable him to proceed with his work without undue further delay.
The administrator also assured the beneficiaries who were yet to be paid that they would be compensated in due course and that there was no need to worry. He explained that some beneficiaries who were yet to be paid had experienced problems with their bank accounts which had been dormant for years but that payment was on course as they had soon rectified the anomaly.
Additionally, the departure of the NLC Swazuri led team currently with cases pending in court has also contributed to the delay as his successors are still testing waters before they authorize payment for the remaining beneficiaries.At least 246 families will be affected by the construction of the dam
He told the people that the Government cannot shortchange them after entering into an agreement with them to vacate their land so as to pave way for the project which would benefit many people.
The DCC promised to provide the required security to enable the clearing of the bushes and repair of the roads the following day to which he says the contractor had made good progress todate.
The mega project is expected to consume 670 acres of land in Gituamba, Kanyoni, Kiriko and Buchana sub-locations of Gatundu North in Kiambu County. On completion, it will serve at least 1,000 families from Kiambu and Nairobi counties. It is also expected to engage the local people during the construction of the dam and young people are eagerly waiting to start smiling all the way to the bank for working on the project
The problem of water scarcity in the region and neighboring Nairobi County will now be a thing of the past following construction of the dam worth 23,918,461 billion shillings.
The project is expected to take 36 months to complete but with the new development where it may not as the contractor should have embarked on the actual work. The dam measuring 59 meters high with 26.5 cubic members is expected to produce 70,000 cubic meters of drinking water per day. The handing over of the site was done on April 2nd this year.
The signing of Karimenu 11 dam water supply project was done in May 2017 after which the process to negotiate with the community who lived on the land that had been earmarked for the project begun.
Signpost erected in strategic locations within the said land show that land can be purchased in Juja and Ruiru sub-counties and the locals who are affected by the acquisition are already in communication with the land sellers.