Kenya: Concerns Raised Over Scandal-Hit Italian Dam Builder

Site in Nakuru where Itare dam is to be constructed by CMC di ravenna. The project has stalled (file photo).
16 February 2019

An Italian construction conglomerate that is building three mega dams in the Rift Valley worth more than Sh90 billion is being investigated for allegedly bribing senior government officials to win tenders.

CMC di Ravenna is alleged to have paid a bribe of an unknown amount from a Sh4.9 billion down payment it received last year for the design of Arror multi-purpose dam in Elgeyo Marakwet County.

One of the questions that the investigators are seeking to answer is why the company was given the down payment yet the process of acquiring land for the project had not been completed.

MANIPULATION

CMC is constructing the Arror dam in Marakwet West constituency at a cost of Sh38.5 billion. It is undertaking a similar project in Kimwarer, Keiyo South constituency, at a cost of Sh28 billion. The two projects are being financed through a loan from the Italian government.

The company is also constructing Itare dam in Kuresoi North, Nakuru County, at a cost of Sh27 billion, bringing the total worth of the dam projects it is undertaking to Sh91 billion.

However the ability of the company to undertake the three massive projects to conclusion has been seriously called into question after it was declared insolvent by the Court of Ravenna in December last year.

Efforts to get comment from the Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) Mr George Kinoti on the status of the investigations bore no fruit as he did not respond to our enquiries on the same

But the Sunday Nation has learnt that, last week, the directors of the Italian firm appeared before DCI officers at their headquarters in Kiambu Road with their lawyer Mr Ahmednassir Abdullahi for questioning.

Mr Abdullahi declined to comment for this article, but our independent sources with knowledge of the matter said that the lawyer told the detectives that his client cannot incriminate itself by admitting to the corruption allegations.

The Arror and Kimwarer projects is being undertaken by the Kerio Valley Development Authority (KVDA), a body that was established in 1979 to undertake planning, coordination and implementation of integrated river based development programmes within the Kerio Valley basin.

COMPENSATION

When completed, the Arror dam will produce more than 60 megawatts of electricity and the Kimwarer dam 20 megawatts, which will be connected to the national power grid.

KVDA chief executive officer David Kimosop did not respond to our enquiries on whether he has been asked to record a statement with the DCI on the bribery claims.

Water and Irrigation Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui said the projects are not under his ministry. "The two projects are not in my ministry," he said. "I don't have information about their status, or any related investigations."

Since coming to power in 2013, the Jubilee administration has vastly expanded the dams' network across the country to provide water for domestic use and to bring more arable land under irrigation.

For example, the Arror and Kimwarer projects will take up more than 10,000 acres and displace about 1,000 families. More than Sh6.5 billion will be used on compensation and resettlement.

Today there are more than 60 dams under construction all over the country costing billions of shillings. A number of them have been dogged by claims of tender manipulation and outright bribery.

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