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Work on stalled Thiba Dam to resume after contractor is paid

Friday November 8 2019

Thiba Dam in Kirinyaga County

Water and Irrigation PS Joseph Irungu (centre) at the stalled Sh20 billion Thiba Dam in Kirinyaga County on November 7, 2019. He said the building of the dam will resume soon. PHOTO | GEORGE MUNENE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

GEORGE MUNENE
By GEORGE MUNENE
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The building of the stalled Sh20 billion Thiba Dam meant to boost rice production at the giant Mwea Irrigation Scheme in Kirinyaga County will resume soon.

Water and Irrigation Principal Secretary Joseph Irungu assured rice farmers from the region that the project will be completed.

Speaking on Thursday in Rukenya village after touring the dam, Mr Irungu admitted that the project halted due to failure to pay the contractor, Strabag Company.

PAY CONTRACTOR

He said the National Treasury has agreed to pay the contractor and told the farmers and local leaders to be patient.

"The money to pay the contractor will be factored in the supplementary budget and there should be no cause for alarm," he stated.

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Mr Irungu said the contractor is expected to recall the workers and resume work in three weeks’ time.

He dismissed as untrue claims that the project had been stopped due to a financial crisis.

"There was money for the project but the Treasury delayed to release it,” he added.

STIPULATED TIME

He denied that the project will not be completed within the stipulated time due to delays in paying the contractor.

"The contractor has the capacity to speed up the construction work and the project will be completed in 2021 as it had been planned," he said.

He revealed that 25 percent of the project complete, contradicting Deputy President William Ruto who recently visited the area and told residents that 50 percent of the project has been done.

Mr Irungu emphasised that once the project is completed, Kenya will double rice production.

Currently, Kenya produces 100,000 tonnes of rice which is not enough for local consumption.

"We want to produce 360,000 tonnes of rice to cater for the deficit. We are capable of feeding our people with rice," he said.

Gichugu MP Gichimu Githinji and his Mwea counterpart Kabinga Wathayu thanked the PS for touring the site to assess the situation.