Thwake Dam project continues as Covid-19 pandemic bites

Workers are pictured at the Thwake Dam construction site on the border of Kitui and Makueni counties on May 7, 2020. PHOTO | LILLIAN MUTAVI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • Representative Apopo Lentana said engineers had embarked on major works including erecting a mega tunnel to divert water from River Athi to dry land for excavation works at the main river base.
  • Mr Lentana, however, spoke of a slow work rate, saying the number of workers was reduced from 1200 to about 700 as part of decongestion measures.
  • To keep the workers and community safe, the company routinely screens them, issues face masks and carries out outreach programmes.

Thwake Dam is 32 per cent complete, the contractor, China Gezhouba Group Company (CGGC) has said and allayed fears that work will stall in light of effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Representative Apopo Lentana said engineers had embarked on major works including erecting a mega tunnel to divert water from River Athi to dry land for excavation works at the main river base.

Mr Lentana also said that two tunnels that are under construction will be used as substitute waterways where the river will change course, and join downstream the original path to the ocean.

“Once the river is diverted, we will build a rock field dam wall that will be 87 meters high then make main and minor spillways for excess water flow,” he said.

Tunnel A is at the height of 280 meters and when complete it will rise to about 700 meters.

SLOW PROGRESS

Mr Lentana, however, spoke of a slow work rate, saying the number of workers was reduced from 1200 to about 700 as part of decongestion measures.

“We will compensate for the time time lost during the pandemic," he said, adding they had been following the government's guidelines on containing the disease.

"We work 24 hours when need be. By the end of this year, we will have completed the tunnels."

To keep the workers and community safe, the company routinely screens them, issues face masks and carries out outreach programmes.

COMMUNITY HELP

Employees living far from the site were also moved closer to limit their interactions with the general public in line with the requirement for social distancing.

Some of the workers said they were grateful that they were not laid off as a result of the economic impact of the pandemic.

“I am happy to be at work as majority of Kenyans elsewhere stopped working. I am earning as usual to feed my family,” said Graham Gichuhi

Marieta Makenzi, a food vendor at a nearby market said they regular receive donations of gloves, face-masks, handwashing basins and sanitisers.

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