alexa The billion-shilling dams that are now a danger to residents - Daily Nation

The billion-shilling dams that are now a danger to residents

Sunday August 25 2019

Kiserian dam

Kiserian dam was constructed at a spot where it is of no use to residents. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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A dam built in Kiserian at a cost of Sh1 billion cannot be used as it was sited at a wrong location; it is, therefore, of no benefit to residents.

Water and Sanitation Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui now says there is nothing he can do about the over Sh1 billion Kiserian dam that has now become the collection point of all manner of garbage, including sewage.


The construction of the 18-metre-high dam some two kilometres from Kajiado town started in 2008 and ended in 2013.

According to the National Water Harvesting and Storage Authority (NWHSA), Kiserian dam was designed to store 1.22 million cubic metres of water and supply 15,700 cubic metres of water daily to about 253,000 residents in Kiserian, Ongata Rongai and parts of Ngong’.

However, the monies invested in the dam appear to have gone up in smoke after Mr Chelugui admitted that the dam has now become an eyesore, has been rendered irrelevant as it is constructed a short way downstream from a sprawling settlement without a properly organised sewer system.


“The poor works on the dam have seen it become a collection point of sludge and sewage. It was poorly procured and sited,” Mr Chelugui recently told a parliamentary committee.

The latest revelations by the CS go against the government’s commitment to provide clean water to all in line with Vision 2030.

Water scarcity in many parts of Kenya has forced residents to depend on boreholes, shallow wells and seasonal rivers, also shared with livestock.

It begs the question why the government would use lots of money on projects that not only become dangerous to the community but whose value for money remains an illusion.

To address the dangers it portends to the environment, it will mean incurring extra expenditure to refill the dam or it will become a dumpsite.

But even as this happens, Mr Chelugui has also revealed that the government splashed Sh3.16 billion in consultancy fees to foreign firms involved in the construction of mega dams across the country, including the Kiserian one. 


A document from the Water ministry seen by the  Sunday Nation, shows that other than consultancy fees, about Sh120 billion was paid to foreign companies for construction of 10 dams in various parts of the country.

A majority of the other dams have either stalled, are poorly constructed or have water that is unfit for human consumption.

The billions were invested to address the country’s water stress levels projected to hit 80 per cent by 2030, painting a grim picture of the country’s water security levels.

Irrigation is deemed the solution on food insecurity with rain-fed agriculture increasingly becoming unreliable.

The ratio of water demand to the available water resources defines a country’s water security status.

The rising demand for water, according to the document, is expected to hit 21 billion litres by 2030, with irrigation consuming the largest at 84 per cent, domestic use 14 per cent, industrial 1.3 per cent and wildlife and fisheries at 0.7 per cent.

The document shows that SMEC Kenya Limited was paid Sh1.708 billion to provide consultancy services for the completion of the Sh62 billion multipurpose Thwake dam project in Makueni County.

A Chinese firm, Gezhouha Group Company Limited, was awarded a Sh38.675 billion contract to finalise the last phase of the dam but there is no indication this will be achieved.

Makueni MP Dan Maanzo, in whose area Thwake dam is being constructed, accused the consultants of slowing the progress of the dam.


“Consultants are giving themselves powers they don’t have. In Thwake, it is a mess – it has become the convergence of flying toilets…. Unless the ministry gets rid of the current consultant, we will go nowhere with the dam,” Mr Maanzo says.

SMEC Kenya Limited would again be awarded Sh202.3 million to consult for the Sh1.702 billion for the remaining works on Umaa Dam in Kitui County that was abandoned more than 10 years ago.

HP Gauff was paid Sh598.4 million to consult for the Sh35.6 billion Itare dam in Nakuru County.

CMC di Ravenna, an Italian firm at the centre of the Sh21 billion Kimwarer and Arror dams’ scandal in Elgeyo Marakwet, was awarded the tender in 2018 to be completed within four years.

However, with less than 20 per cent into the construction works, the contractor filed for bankruptcy proceedings in Italy, citing financial challenges. 

Sorata Bell and Gibb Africa were paid Sh200 million for the construction of Sh17.2 billion Ruiru II dam and water supply in Kiambu awarded to Vinci construction Grands projects, a joint venture with Sogea Satom and Egis EUA.

The ministry is in the process of hiring Tertiary Consulting Engineers limited at Sh178.3 million to right the wrongs in the supervision of construction of the stalled Badasa dam in Marsabit.

The tender for the construction of the dam was awarded to Midroc Water Drilling Company in March 2008 for Sh1.702 billion and was set to be completed by December 2010.

The cost would later be varied by National Water Conservation and Pipeline Corporation (NWPC) to Sh1.98 billion allegedly because of design flows.

However, more than 11 years since the contract was awarded and monies paid, there is nothing to write home about the dam that was to store 5 billion litres of water to supply Marsabit town and its environs.

The ministry has now re-tendered the project at Sh2.3 billion and a new contractor will be brought on board once the design review for the dam have been completed.