What you need to know:
- In this year’s budget, Sh2.4 billion had been set aside to compensate 519 families residing in the area after surveying and valuation was done, with the government buying an acre for Sh180,000.
- Sources at Maji House revealed that the ministry which supervised the surveying and valuation of the project land has demanded that the commission justifies its demand for more funds and launched its own internal probe.
- Two weeks ago, the AfDB rejected the contract award to the second lowest bidder STECOL Corporation (Sino Hydro Tianjin Engineering Co Ltd), which quoted Sh39.5 billion.
The government has stepped in to resolve the controversy surrounding compensation and resettlement of people affected by Sh62.3 billion Thwake dam project.
Water Cabinet secretary Eugene Wamalwa has invited representatives of persons affected by the dam project for a meeting on Thursday to discuss ways of resolving the dispute.
The move comes amid claims by Ukambani leaders that the project had been deliberately set up to collapse in order to punish the intended beneficiaries.
The land owners committee will present their grievances to Mr Wamalwa, including claims of under compensation and discrepancies in reimbursement rates that have dogged the land valuation process.
In this year’s budget, Sh2.4 billion had been set aside to compensate 519 families residing in the area after surveying and valuation was done, with the government buying an acre for Sh180,000.
However, the process stalled after the National Land Commission (NLC) which was tasked with processing the compensation payments asked for an extra Sh1.5 billion, prompting an audit by the ministry.
According to Dr Daniel Kisangau, the secretary of Thwake land owners committee, the farmers will be seeking answers from the CS why they have to beg for the payments yet funds have been set aside.
Dr Kisangau who is the Director of South Eastern Kenya University’s Wote campus told the Nation that residents are worried that they may be rendered squatters unless adequate measures are taken to address the mess.
“People are apprehensive that the need to address the water deficiency in the region may render them squatters after acquiring their land in a rushed process and then pushed out,” he said.
The residents who were supposed to have vacated the dam site by February this year are yet to be fully paid for their land and the compensation process is now under investigations over alleged fraud.
Mr Wamalwa’s meeting comes in the wake of residents’ petition to parliament to intervene and ensure they are not forced out until their full payments are made.
The CS and Commission chairman Muhammad Swazuri have been summoned to appear before the parliamentary committee on lands to shed light why hundreds of families affected by the dam project have not been fully compensated.
Sources at Maji House revealed that the ministry which supervised the surveying and valuation of the project land has demanded that the commission justifies its demand for more funds and launched its own internal probe.
“We ask the National Assembly to liaise with the relevant government agencies to establish whether the survey for acreage of plots was done professionally and if not recommend a repeat of the exercise to address our concerns” the petition reads.
The petition which was presented by Kitui Rural MP Charles Nyamai further asks parliament to intervene to ensure that the list of affected people are rightly compensated by reviewing payments each of them is entitled to and clearance of their outstanding amounts.
Mr Nyamai insisted that the resettlement of the families must be done satisfactorily to avoid creating a more complex problem and wondered why the NLC was demanding more funds yet the project land has not expanded after ‘the thorough’ adjudication and valuation by government surveyors.
The multi-purpose dam hangs in the balance after the project financiers — African Development Bank (AfDB) — questioned why the contract was awarded to the second lowest bidder whose bid price exceeded the lowest bidder by a whooping Sh3 billion.
Two weeks ago, the AfDB rejected the contract award to the second lowest bidder STECOL Corporation (Sino Hydro Tianjin Engineering Co Ltd), which quoted Sh39.5 billion.
AfDB director-general for East Africa Gabriel Negatu said the bank objected awarding the tender to the second lowest bidder because there are no justifiable reasons to reject the least evaluated bidder.
In the letter to Mr Wamalwa, copied to Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua and Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich, Mr Negatu said AfDB’s procurement rules and procedures prohibit modification of bids including negotiation of price for works.
The firm was being fronted by former Irrigation Principal Secretary Patrick Mwangi, who was transferred to Department of Industry and Enterprise Development, while his boss, Mr Wamalwa, wanted China Gezhouba Construction Group Corporation which put in the lowest bid of Sh36.9 billion.
Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka accused the Jubilee government of instigating the collapse of the multi-billion dam project through “deliberately manufactured integrity issues”.
Mr Musyoka claimed the tendering and donor funding controversy surrounding the dam were created on purpose by State officials to kill the project and politically punish the intended beneficiaries.
The former VP said the procurement mess that prompted AfDB to raise the red flag, was purely by design to occasion funding withdrawal and hence collapse of the project.