Kenya: Sh14 Million Naivasha Dam Project That Is Now a White Elephant

19 January 2021

A dam that was meant to benefit more than 30,000 villagers from Nyodia, located in the outskirts of Naivasha town, is now a white elephant after it was abandoned before completion.

Sources told the Nation that at least Sh14 million was pumped into construction of the unfinished project, dashing hopes for the locals who wanted to use the dam for irrigation purposes.

The dam which was under construction in 2017 has been washed away, highlighting the extent of the shoddy work that was done by the contractor.

A member of the Karati-Mugumoini dam committee and secretary of the local village group, Peter Kiambo, said they had engaged community members in constructing the dam before they were elbowed out.

"We were in the process of constructing the dam after engaging community members but we were edged out before we could actualise our dream," he said.

The dam, he disclosed, was to be built on a 7.5 acre piece of land set aside by community members.

"When the contractor came in, our committee members were sidelined with new members being selected to oversee the multi-million shilling project," revealed Mr Kiambo.

He also claims that there was no public participation from community members during the commencement process.

The secretary of the community group further revealed that the dam was finally built on a small portion of land as opposed to the original size.

Another member of the group, Elkana Njuguna, said they had ambitious plans to set up a recreational facility within the proposed dam.

"We had nicknamed the leisure place 'Migingo Island', with a local of European descent providing the drawings, but the hiring of a contractor put off our dreams," he said.

He accused the contractor of failing to work with elected members of the committee, instead preferring to only engage with handpicked officials.

"To me it is a white elephant that is unlikely to benefit a high number of farmers who were willing to undertake irrigation activities," stated Mr Njuguna.

A local farmer, John Ngari, said they had erected greenhouses in anticipation of a farming "revolution."

"Some of the locals incurred huge costs putting up greenhouses, hoping to undertake professional farming... the stalling of the dam project has really affected them,' he said.

The area, according to Mr Ngari, is relatively dry with the villagers wholly dependent on the dam for agricultural activities.

"With enough water, we are capable of growing enough food to feed the entire Naivasha region but farmers here have been reduced to paupers," he added.

The members is now putting the national government to task over the failed project.

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