EDITORIAL: Project collapse a shame

Wednesday June 03 2020

The collapse of a Sh7 billion irrigation project in Coast that had been touted as one of the answers to the country's food security challenge is a huge setback for the government. It is even worse for the people, who had hoped that the irrigation scheme would not just produce enough food for the country, but also boost the agricultural sector.

It is a shame that the country risks losing the Sh5.9 billion already paid to the Israeli firm that had been contracted to implement the vast agricultural scheme. This is 80 per cent of the allocation to the entire project. The irrigation scheme in Tana River County has turned into a huge scam. The Galana-Kulalu Food Project was being financed by the government and an Israeli bank loan of Sh6.35 billion.

For President Uhuru Kenyatta, who personally sanctioned the project as one of his efforts to boost the country's food security, has been terribly let down by the Kenyan experts who were involved from the inception of the idea, the planning, implementation to this ignominy. Now, some experts are warning that all the equipment that had not been installed and for which the government has forked out billion of shillings will just go to waste.

It would not have come to this is the National Irrigation Board, which was the implementing agency, and the Ministry of Water and Irrigation had done their work properly. They must be held culpable for the losses. The accusations and counter-accusations between the board and the contractor are futile. They should have raised the red flag before everything went south.

A forensic audit must be carried to document what exactly went wrong, sanction those who played a role in this and ensure that such blatant wastage of public resources never happens again.