President William Ruto moves to quell Sh4.2 billion Karimenu II dam pay row

Karimenu dam

A view of Karimenu 2 Dam in Gatundu North in Kiambu County pictured on May 8, 2023.

Photo credit: File I Nation Media Group

President William Ruto has ordered Water Cabinet Secretary Alice Wahome to pay the Sh4.2 billion owed by the State to Gatundu North residents in Kiambu after they ceded part of their land to pave the way for the construction of the Sh24 billion Karimenu 2 dam.

The long-running compensation dispute between the State and the locals had last week drawn in local leaders, including area MP Elijah Kururia, who led the locals in a protest calling on the Head of State to sack Ms Wahome for failing to make the payments.

On Saturday, while launching the Thika-Magumu road in the area, Dr Ruto asked Ms Wahome to pay the affected residents before the onset of the El Nino rains.

William Ruto

President William Ruto when he visited Kiambu County ain August 2023. Present were Kiambu Governor Kimani Wamatangi, National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichung'wa among a host of other leaders.

Photo credit: File I Nation Media Group

"I understand that there are people who ceded part of their land for the construction of the Karimenu 2 dam and have never been paid. I have instructed Water Cabinet Secretary Alice Wahome to pay them before the onset of the El Nino rains," said Mr Ruto. 

The Karimenu 2 dam was completed and commissioned last year.

The government, in a stakeholders meeting chaired by Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua on Thursday, announced that the El Niño rains are expected to start in mid-October and run until the end of December this year, with the state outlining Sh10 billion as the cost of mitigating its effects.

MP Kururia, noted that the compensation for the Karimenu residents was timely as most of the victims were languishing in poverty.

“We have been trying to seek an audience with Ms Wahome to no success and the Head of State's intervention is a big relief to the affected people,” Mr Kururia told the Nation.

But Mr Ruto's visit to Kiambu had its ups and downs, with the fallout between Governor Kimani Wamatangi and local leaders playing out openly before the Head of State.

Juja MP George Koimburi kicked off the storm after accusing Mr Wamatangi of blocking government efforts to start construction of affordable housing in Kiambu by deliberately refusing to issue permits.

“Your Excellency, because you are here, tell the governor (Wamatangi) to allow the approvals of affordable housing, the Kiambu County government has deliberately refused to give approvals and nothing is happening on the ground. The sabotage is being done from the county headquarters,” Mr Koimburi said.

Ms Triza Wanjiru, UDA party's nominated MP, also took a swipe at Governor Wamatangi accusing him of having “misplaced priorities like giving chicks to farmers instead of addressing pertinent issues affecting Kiambu people like water and shortage of drugs and food in Kiambu hospitals”.

“Your Excellency, we are pleading with you to intervene, instead of the governor returning money to the National Treasury and buying chicks for the locals, he should provide water to the locals, drugs and food to the hospitals,” charged Ms Wanjiru.

Kiambaa MP Njuguna Wanjiku also accused Mr Wamatangi of taking credit for projects initiated by the national government.

But Mr Wamatangi dismissed the allegations, saying he was being fought by land cartels out to grab public land for personal development.

Wamatangi, some local MCAs and a majority of Kiambu MPs have been at loggerheads since he was elected.