Construction of the Kenya’s biggest dam has been suspended due to corruption allegations.
Deputy President William Ruto said there had been suspicion that a group of individuals who were supposed to implement the Sh100 billion High Grand Falls dam which would have covered Tharaka-Nithi, Kitui and Tana-River counties had diverted some of the money and were asking for more.
Speaking at Chuka University grounds during a thanksgiving service for Chuka-Igambang’ombe legislator Muthomi Njuki, Mr Ruto said the government would appraise the project afresh before a new start date is announced.
The planned dam would produce 700 megawatts of electricity and provide water to irrigate over 250,000 acres of land besides supplying water to the Lamu resort city and port.
Mr Ruto said the 165-kilometre dam which will hold over 5.6 billion cubic metres of water will help check the perennial flooding in Tana delta which has been displacing thousands of residents when the river breaks its banks.
“We detected that there were some elements of graft involved in the project. The people who were handling it were not straight forward,” said Mr Ruto.
The project was to be funded through a public-private partnership with firms from the People’s Republic of China and the Export-Import Bank of China providing the finances.
Mr Njuki said area leaders had been informed that some people had inflated the amount needed to implement the project in a move suspected to be an effort to siphon cash.
“The people handling it inflated the cost of the project. The donors said it would cost $1 million but they asked for $1.7 million. The government stopped it to conduct further assessment,” he said.
The legislator said the project would have immensely benefited the largely semi-arid county through irrigation projects started through revenue remitted by the national government.
“You have seen how tourists flock to Masinga dam which is very small compared to the High Grand Falls Dam. We are optimistic that it would be built soon,” he said.
The High Grand Falls Dam is part of the Sh1.5 trillion Lamu Port and Lamu Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Corridor (Lapsset), which was officially launched in March last year at the Lamu Port by former President Mwai Kibaki at a ceremony attended by the President of the Republic of South Sudan, Mr Salva Kiir, and former Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi who has since died.