Residents seek fresh compensation talks amid Arror, Kimwarer dam projects revival plans
What you need to know:
- Arror and Kimwarer dams are in Elgeyo-Marakwet county, predominately occupied by the Marakwet and the Keiyo, sub-tribes of the Kalenjin community
- The dams' revival plans follow a renegotiated deal between the Kenyan and Italian governments
- The two governments agreed to withdraw cases linked to the project and agree on new contract terms.
The government has been urged to reconsider and re-negotiate compensation for residents of Elgeyo Marakwet who will be displaced by the Sh63 billion Arror and Kimwarer multipurpose dams, which are being revived.
The revival plans follow a renegotiated deal between the Kenyan and Italian governments, which has sparked mixed reactions. The revival is a major boost to the Kenya Kwanza administration on the implementation of projects that were suspended due to political squabbles.
The dams are in Elgeyo-Marakwet county, predominately occupied by the Marakwet and the Keiyo, sub-tribes of the Kalenjin community.
The implementation of the controversial project which stalled four years ago after it was hit by scandal, is set to start after the two governments agreed to withdraw cases linked to the project and agree on new contract terms.
“There is still a lot to be done, including withdrawal of cases at the Internal Court of Arbitration. But we expect concerned senior government officials to issue a comprehensive statement on the matter,” said Mr Samuel Naporos, the Kerio Valley Development Authority (KVDA) managing director.
KVDA, which is the government implementing agency, was to acquire about 6,000 acres of land, including a public forest to set up the twin multi-purpose dams in 2019, but the project was hit by mega corruption scandals.
Residents of Kipsaiya, where Arror dam is to be located, on Thursday asked the government to come out clear on the compensation of properties, including land required for the ambitious project.
“The compensation issue needs to be renegotiated and public participation carried out to avoid previous incidents where those who were opposed to it were arrested and fabricated charges preferred against them,” said Mzee Michael Chebii from Kipsaiya village.
In the earlier agreement, displaced families were promised about Sh6 billion as compensation for the project that was to serve more than 50,000 people living in the highland and lower parts of the vast semi-arid Kerio Valley region.
“What we know is that the twin projects are meant to transform the Kerio Valley in terms of food production and power generation, but the entire process needs to be transparent,” said Mr Mathew Kaino, a resident.
The Kenya Forest Service (KFS) pulled out of the land exchange programme for the Arror and Kimwarer dams multipurpose project after it was riddled with corruption.
Under the deal, the KFS was to surrender 400 hectares of forest land in exchange for 570 hectares that were to be recovered from private land surrendered by the displaced communities.
Pre-election campaign promise
The two dams formed part of the Kenya Kwanza pre-election campaign tool and President William Ruto has in the past repeatedly denied reports that Sh21 billion allocated to the Arror and Kimwarer dam projects was lost.
“It is a flat lie, the money in question is Sh7 billion and for every coin that has been paid, we have a bank guarantee, no money will be lost because we are a responsible government, we have engaged all arms of the government to ensure that public resources are safe,” said Dr Ruto during his campaign to succeed retired President Uhuru Kenyatta.
The issue of the Arror and Kimwarer dams resurfaced during President Ruto’s tour of Baringo last December where he promised to implement projects that are beneficial to Kenyans.
“As promised during the campaign, we will not let politics interfere with projects that will benefit Kenyans. I am ready to work with everyone on matters to do with development,” said Dr Ruto.
The two projects were rocked by corruption scandals and a technical team appointed by President Uhuru Kenyatta cancelled the Sh22.2 billion Kimwarer dam in Keiyo South sub-county after it was found to be overpriced and neither technically nor financially viable. However, he approved the Sh28.3 billion Arror dam in Marakwet East sub-county.