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Wamalwa, Rotich to be quizzed over Sh38bn Itare dam

Monday December 16 2019
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Former Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich arraigned in a Milimani court on July 23, 2019 over the dams scandal. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By ERIC MATARA

Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti is widening his net as investigations into the Sh38 billion Itare Dam project in Kuresoi, Nakuru County, intensify.

Mr Kinoti on Sunday confirmed that senior officials -- among them Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa, former National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich and former Water Principal Secretary Joseph Irungu -- will be interrogated to shed light on the multi-billion-shilling saga.

“I confirm that the said people will undergo intense interrogation to shed light on how billions of money were fraudulently paid out for no value,” Mr Kinoti told the Nation.

The DCI said that upon conclusion of the investigations, they will forward their recommendations to DPP Noordin Haji for action.

It emerged that the investigations could also involve officials at the National Treasury, Ministry of Water and banks that were involved in various transactions touching on construction of the dam.

This comes after Mr Kinoti on Sunday summoned 11 individuals, most of them former board members of the Rift Valley Water Works Development Agency, as he seeks to nail those involved in the scandal.

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INDIVIDUALS SUMMONED

The officials have been summoned to record statements in relation to corruption allegations surrounding the controversial dam.

In a statement released to the Press, the DCI wants the individuals to report to its headquarters on Kiambu Road today to record statements over the scam.

“The DCI is currently investigating allegations of misappropriation of public funds in the construction of Itare dam. We have summoned the individuals to record their statements on December 16,” the DCI statement read.

Those summoned include politician Lydia Ntimama, Ms Christine Ndoigo, Mr David Kinuthia, Mr Julius Lamaoni, Mr Nemuel Machuki, Mr Ewoi Lochom, Mr Samuel Kaaleng, all former members of the Rift Valley Water Works Development Agency board.

Also summoned is former chairman of the agency Chesaina Bartonjo.

The officials served between 2012 and 2015, when the construction of the dam was conceived, before it started in 2016. Others under investigation are Mr Kyengo, Mr Barrack Amolo and Mr David Yatich.

This comes as ghosts of the controversial dam returned to haunt senior officials who were involved in initiating the project.

The summonses come a week after Water Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui was grilled by the DCI.

OFFICIALS IN THE DARK

Mr Chelugui, who appeared before the DCI on December 4, was interrogated for half of the day and asked 120 questions relating to the failed dam projects in the Rift Valley.

Sources said the questions mostly dwelt on advance payments the Water ministry made to bankrupt Italian firm CMC di Ravenna, even when it was clear that the contractor was already having problems delivering the Kimwarer and Arror projects that have since failed.

A former director, Ms Ndoigo, confirmed to the Nation that she had received the DCI summons.

“I’ve received the DCI summon (sic) and l’m already on my way to Nairobi to record my statement tomorrow,” she said.

She, however, said she was not aware of the reason she was required to appear before the DCI.

Ms Ntimama also confirmed receiving the summons, saying she will honour the summons since she was not aware of the reasons she was required to record a statement.

“All of us were serving at the water agency board during the construction of Itare Dam, but I was not attached to that project since we always divided members of the board to specific engagements and I was never in Itare dam; I don’t know about it,” she told the Nation in an interview.

GRAFT CHARGES

Ms Ntimama added: “I don’t know what they are talking about; l’m equally curious to know why I was summoned.”

A senior detective told the Nation that the 11 are expected to record statements on what they know about the saga.

Already, Mr Rotich and former Principal Secretary Kamau Thugge have been charged in court and suspended in connection with the Arror and Kimwarer dams.

Also 26 co-accused persons have been charged in court. They denied graft charges.

Detectives have been gathering evidence on the case for the past nearly six months, which would ensnare a number of senior government officials said to have been involved in graft, running to millions of shillings.

Itare Dam, a flagship Jubilee administration water supply project under Vision 2030, which was supposed to yield 100,000 cubic metres of water per day, stalled after CMC di Ravenna filed for bankruptcy in a court in Ravenna, Italy.

STALLED WORKS

The project, which was to be completed in 2021, remains in a limbo.

The construction site in Ndoinet in Kuresoi South constituency is deserted with nearly 800 workers away.

Heavy machinery and vehicles used in the project remain at the parking yard, an indication that no activity was taking place.

The project has in the past been mired in controversy over allegations of flawed procurement processes and numerous court cases.

Additional reporting by George Sayagie

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