Man shot dead in Nyamira during protests over dam

Tuesday January 9 2018

Bonyunyu, Nyamira County

Police remove the body of a man who was shot dead in Bonyunyu, Nyamira County on January 9, 2017 as villagers protested the planned construction of a controversial dam. PHOTO | MAGATI OBEBO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By MAGATI OBEBO
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One person has been shot dead in Bonyunyu, Nyamira County villagers protested the planned construction of a controversial dam.

Police also arrested three people – among them two women – even as villagers said they are not ready for the project.

The deceased, Mr Jomo Nyanguti, had confronted police officers guarding a team of surveyors doing mapping at the site where the dam is to be built.

One officer was injured in the eye during the confrontations.

Construction is set to begin in August this year.

CONSULTATIONS

Political leaders from the region have already demanded that the project be shelved till proper consultations are done.

The residents Tuesday said they will not allow the project to go on accusing the government of a plot to grab land from them.

Those who spoke to Nation say those fronting the project are yet to talk about compensation for land where the dam will built.

However, others said they will not allow the project go on whether public participations is carried out or not.

They said the project is being imposed on them.

“If the project is genuine then they can as well take it to the Kisii County government which is fronting it. They have River Kuja and can as well use it,” said John Omambia, a Nyamira resident.

PUBLIC PARTICIPATION

Former Kitutu Masaba MP Timothy Bosire protested the killing, joining in the calls for public participation.

He said all the government is doing is an attempt to arm-twist the residents into agreeing to the construction of the dam yet no public participation has been done as required by law.

“Gachuba’s Bonyunyu land is no idle land, it is inhabited and the people want the truth because they may be displaced. They must be told in no uncertain terms what lies in store for them when the project is being set up,” Mr Bosire told Nation by phone.

He said it could only be deemed an act of wisdom if public participation is done.

“There are attendant ecological challenges to it and we must face it. The people will be displaced yet nobody has come up to say where they are going to be settled. These are grey areas that if not addressed the project will become a cropper,” Mr Bosire said.

Last month, four houses of the locals deemed as supporting the project were set ablaze by youths who are opposing it.

Three people were subsequently arrested and arraigned at the Keroka Law Courts for arson.

When Nation sought comment from Kitutu Masaba MP Shadrack Mose, he said he needs more time to familiarise himself with the project before he gives his comment.

 “I am yet to get documentation and briefing and it is only when I will do that that I will give a reasoned response to your query,” the legislator told Nation.

STEER CLEAR

Politicians in Nyamira County have been asked to steer clear of the controversial Bonyunyu dam project to allow it to take off.

But Nyamira County Commissioner Isaiah Nakoru said wrong information fed to residents is hampering preliminary work on the site.

He warned that action will be taken against those who recently burnt houses belonging to villagers who are supporting the project.

In a forum last week, he said there is a lot of misinformation going on about the dam, which had prompted a section of the villagers to oppose the project.

“We are going to take action on them and especially politicians bankrolling the protests,” warned Mr Nakoru.

Officials from Lake Victoria Water Services Board also said they are reading politics in the project.

 “It is a good project had it not been the political intrigues,” said the board’s director, Mr Victor Omanwa.

He said the board has organised many public participation forums in the area as dictated by the Constitution.

“We have sat with the residents several times. The irony is that a large number of them fully agree with the importance of the project,” Mr Omanwa told Nation.

At least 500 locals are to get jobs once the construction of the dam begins, says Omanwa.

Mr Omanwa says at least 340,000 people will benefit from the project once it is completed.

The project is being funded by the German Bank (KfW) and ORIO of Netherlands.