Kenya: Italian Firm in Dams Scandal Yet to Surrender Machinery

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

Italian contractor CMC di Ravenna has not surrendered any of the 98 vehicles and construction machinery for safe custody to a Nakuru yard as ordered by the High Court in Nairobi.

The court directed seizure of the machinery and vehicles awaiting outcome of case filed by Barclays Bank.

High Court Judge Francis Tuiyott had stopped CMC di Ravenna from selling, transferring or interfering with equipment and vehicles that were bought through loans advanced by Barclays Bank of Kenya.

Barclays Bank is pursuing a Sh585-million debt and moved to seize the property in fear that the Italian firm may tamper with them and thwart the lender's efforts to recover the money.

SAFE CUSTODY

The Nation visited the land owned by Casuarina Limited in Nakuru, Wednesday, where the court had directed the vehicles and machinery be taken to for safe custody by close of business Wednesday, but there was no indication that the directive had been honoured.

In an agreement attached as evidence in court, Barclays Bank was allowed to seize the motor vehicles and assets.

A source privy to the goings-on revealed to the Nation that the company was yet to owner the agreement entered by both parties in court.

"Since Monday, l have not seen any vehicle or machinery being brought into this place," said the source that sought anonymity because he is not authorised to speak on the matter.

INVESTIGATIONS

The seized vehicles were intended for use in the scandal-hit Arror, Kimwarer and Itare dams, which have become the focus of criminal investigations by detectives.

The Nation learnt that in Kuresoi, Nakuru County, where the company has been constructing the now stalled multi-billion Itare dam, heavy security had been deployed to ensure the firm does not sell, transfer or interfere with equipment.

The latest developments have pile more financial problems that saw the Italian firm abandon construction of the Sh38 billion (about $370 million) Itare dam in Kuresoi and fail to commence construction of Arror and Kimwarer dams in Elgeyo-Marakwet County.

Hopes that the construction of Itare dam would resume soon have further been dwindled, with its fate unknown even as Nakuru leaders protested the stalemate.

Led by Governor Lee Kinyanjui, the leaders have written to the national government seeking an urgent resolution of the stalemate.

DAM PROJECT

Stalling of the dam project, they said, would greatly affect the progress of Nakuru town to attaining city status.

"Hopes of water supply for Nakuru town, Molo, Njoro town, Elburgon, Rongai and parts of Kuresoi were pegged on completion of the dam," Mr Kinyanjui told the Nation.

"Stalling of the project is therefore a matter of grave concern to the residents as it means they will continue to experience water shortages. We also want the government to deal firmly with those who will be found culprits in the graft allegations in the project."

Other local leaders who want quick action to safeguard the construction of the dam are MPs Samuel Arama (Nakuru Town West), Joseph Tonui (Kuresoi South), and National Assembly Deputy speaker Moses Cheboi, who is also the lawmaker for Kuresoi North.

The mega project is one of the flagship Jubilee administration water supply projects under Vision 2030.

CHEMUSUSU

The dam, whose construction began in June 2016, was billed as the largest of its kind undertaken in the South Rift region after the Sh5.5 billion Chemususu dam in Baringo County.

With a capacity to yield 100,000 m3/day, the 57-metre-high reservoir was expected to serve a population of 1 million people in Kuresoi, Molo, Njoro, Rongai and Nakuru Town, Kericho and Baringo counties.

The Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) is investigating the multi-billion dam scandals that have rocked the country.

Those targeted in the investigations are Water Cabinet secretaries Simon Chelugui, his predecessor Eugene Wamalwa, Henry Rotich (Treasury) , former Water Principal Secretary Fred Segor, Kerio Valley Development Authority and the Rift Valley Water Services Board.

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