Ukambani governors have rejected a proposed formula for sharing jobs and business opportunities arising from the Sh64 billion Thwake Dam project on the border of Kitui and Makueni counties.
They are demanding a bigger share of the Vision 2030 project’s windfall.
Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana and his Machakos counterpart, Dr Alfred Mutua, met junior Water ministry officials tasked with co-ordinating the project at Wote town in Makueni County on Monday.
They bosses called for an adjustment of the proposed formula for distributing jobs and business opportunities between Chinese and Kenyans.
The meeting — which was attended by three county commissioners from the region and Water executives from the three counties — came days after the African Development Bank released Sh27.4 billion for the project, paving the way for its construction.
The contract terms state, among other things, that the lion’s share of the Sh36 billion worth of tenders in the first phase of the project goes to China Ghezouba Group while 30 per cent would be taken by Kenyan sub-contractors.
Some Sh1.1 billion worth of sub-contracts out of the local sub-contracts valued at Sh11 billion is reserved for contractors from Ukambani, an offer the local leaders have rejected as insufficient.
“Out of the Sh11 billion set aside for Kenyan sub-contractors, Sh5.5 should be reserved for contractors from this region,” Dr Mutua said at the end of a closed-door meeting.
Prof Kibwana said the contractors should also ensure they source most of their workers from the region.
“We had agreed earlier that 80 per cent of those to be employed at the project should be Kenyans. Sixty per cent of these should be from this region,” said Prof Kibwana. He urged the main contractor to publicise the available vacancies.
The leaders called for speedy compensation of 189 households displaced by the proposed dam.
Thwake Dam is expected to collect water for domestic use, for irrigating up to 100,000 acres of land, and for generating electricity to power the proposed Konza Technocity.