The Italian company hired to construct the multibillion-shilling Itare Dam on Friday defended itself against accusations that it was responsible for the project’s collapse.
In a statement, CMC Di Ravenna’s lawyers, Amsterdam and Partners LLP, blamed the collapse of the controversial project, which is currently at the centre of investigations by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), on a series of blunders on the part of the Rift Valley Water Works Development Agency (RVWWDA).
The Italian firm further maintained that the project stalled after it had completed 30 per cent of the total works, as opposed to claims by government and RVWWDA officials that it had failed to take off.
“The progress of the work done in Itare Dam Project until now, subject of recent controversial media statements, had been measured a number of times and by various independent agencies both financially and physically, as compared to the expected progress of works,” the firm said, citing a report by the parliamentary committee on environment and natural resources on the status of the dam which noted that 30 per cent of the works had been completed.
“With regards to the progress, we would like to draw the attention to paragraph 3.2.1. Finding from the visit to Itare Dam, where the committee concludes at bullet g) that the overall works completed were about 30 per cent of the total.”
The firm was reacting to reports that the Kenya government may have set up taxpayers for Sh4.3 billion loss by offering it a non-refundable advance payment for the construction of the dam.
The firm has since issued notice of winding up its operations in Kenya after running bankrupt, jeopardising the chances of the money ever being recovered.
The government is demanding to be refunded the Sh4.3 billion it gave as advance payment on grounds that the monies were not used for the intended purpose to aid resource mobilisation.
But in the statement, CMC Di Ravenna protested its innocence in the contract, accusing RVWWDA of failing to obtain the necessary environmental licence and permits for the execution of the project and consequently delaying and frustrating its operations.
This, it argues, resulted in the one year delay in the commencement of the project.
“This took place after the contract had come into full force and effect in April 2016, while the contractor was already mobilised on site with staff, equipment and personnel, leaving them practically idle until April 2017 when commencement of works had been issued,” the statement reads.
The firm further claimed it was denied access to the project site and partial site handover by RVWWDA due to delayed inter ministerial discussions on zoning and mapping.
“For example, this included a ban on cutting down trees by Kenya Forest Authority along intended pipeline route, lack of way leaves from the Kenya Highway Authority, and delayed land acquisition for the contractor to initiate the works.
This resulted in numerous delays of the works including dam activities, water treatment plant activities, pipeline activities, and reservoir activities,” the firm said.
It further accused RVWWDA of issuing an incomplete and inapplicable design for the construction of the dam, which allegedly resulted in enormous additional costs, undermining its cash flow and jeopardising the progress of the entire project.
The company also accused the government of confusing the Itare project with the construction of the Arror and Kimwarer dams, “resulting in the seizure of vehicles in Itare (on the mistaken assumption that they belonged to the JV)”.
The confusion also led to the freezing of the CMC Di Ravenna’s bank account for the Itare Dam project, further interfering with the works, the statement advanced.