The construction of Sh63 billion multi-purpose dams in Elgeyo-Marakwet County has began following an agreement between a government agency and the local community over land compensation.
Seventeen engineers from Europe have in the last two weeks been camping at Kimwarer and Arror laying ground for construction of the hydro-electric and irrigation projects.
“The designers and planners are already on the ground and the construction is expected to take a shorter time than anticipated,” said Kerio Valley Development Authority (KVDA) Managing Director David Kimosop.
He disclosed that a down payment of 41 million Euros (Sh4.9 billion) has been made for the design of Arror dam. “The actual construction work is expected to begin in the next six to eight months after the detailed design plan is carried out,” said Mr Kimosop.
He said engineers are carrying out mapping and evaluation, which will facilitate piping for the hydroelectricity and irrigation project.
This comes after the KVDA, which is implementing the project funded by the Italian government, and other State agencies agreed with local communities on the compensation and resettlement process.
“We are in the process of acquiring land for the families to be displaced to pave way for the construction of the projects after we settled on amicable agreement,” said Mr Kimosop.
He disclosed that 400 hectares of the forest land for the two projects will be acquired from the Kenya Forest Service in exchange for 570 hectares recovered from private land owned by locals, who will be displaced and compensated. Arror dam will cost Sh38.5 billion, while the other one in Kimwarer will cost Sh28 billion.
The two dams to be constructed in rivers Arror and Kimwarer in Marakwet West and Keiyo South respectively will displace more than 800 families.
They are expected to irrigate over 20,000 acres of land.
Area Governor Alex Tolgos acknowledged that there have been underlying issues, which have been derailing the implementation of the projects, including compensation.
“As leaders, we have come to a conclusion that we need to work together for the construction works to begin. We shall address emerging issues to ensure speedy implementation of the projects," he said.
Mr Kimosop said the two projects are key to unlocking the huge potential of Kerio Valley, which has experienced insecurity for decades.
Speaking during a consultative meeting at Kipsaiya in Elgeyo Marakwet, Devolution CS Eugene Wamalwa said the government will strictly adhere to laid-down procedures while acquiring land for the multi-purpose dams.
He asked leaders in the region and KVDA to enhance public participation to ensure the projects get good will from the locals.
“If there are issues that need to be addressed, KVDA and leaders should put in place mechanisms to solve them because we want to bring everybody on board and begin construction works immediately,” said the CS.