The Kenya Forest Service (KFS) will not surrender 400 hectares of forest land, dealing a blow to the implementation of the controversy-ridden Sh63 billion multipurpose dams in Elgeyo-Marakwet County.
The state agency pulled out of the land exchange programme for the Arror and Kimwarer dams project following claims that the procurement process was tainted with corruption.
“The matter failed to go through after the project was hit by allegation of corruption,” said Benjamin Kanyili, KFS North Rift Head of Conservancy.
Under the deal, KFS was to surrender 400 hectares of forest land in exchange for 570 hectares that was to be recovered from private land owners.
The Kerio Valley Development Authority (KVDA), which is the government implementing agency, was to acquire about 6,000 acres of land including public forest to set up the twin multi-purpose dams.
According to KVDA Managing Director David Kimosop displaced residents were to be settled in land recovered from private land owners.
“The displaced families [were] expected to receive about Sh6 billion as compensation for properties lost, including land,” said Mr Kimosop in an earlier interview.
“Most of the families have proposed swapping of land as part of the compensation and measures have been put in place to settle them elsewhere under mutual agreement,” added Mr Kimosop.
The ambitious project was projected to serve more than 50,000 people.
Both projects in Kerio Valley region are meant to produce electricity and boost irrigated agriculture.
The project was projected to displace 900 families, schools, shopping amenities and other public facilities.
Elgeyo-Marakwet County Governor Alex Tolgos on Saturday claimed that KFS wrote a letter to stop allocation of the land for the two mega dam projects.
“Already KFS has written a letter that they are not ready to provide land for these projects. I want to tell those (disgruntled) MPs to channel their energies instead of responding to the President through the media they should have brought the issue before the floor of House,” said the governor.
The KFS has since confirmed the claims, throwing into jeopardy the implementation of the mega project.