HomeBiggest projectsThwake Multi-purpose Dam project timeline and all you need to know

Thwake Multi-purpose Dam project timeline and all you need to know

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Thwake is a multi-purpose dam designed to increase water storage for rural and urban domestic use, irrigation, livestock and for hydropower with a principal focus on the semi-arid counties of Kitui and Makueni where the dam is located. At least 1.3 million people are expected to benefit from the Thwake Multi-purpose Water Development Program (TMWDP).

Thwake Multi-purpose Water Development Program (TMWDP)

The Thwake Multi-purpose Water Development Program (TMWDP) comprises a multi-purpose dam for water supply, hydropower generation and irrigation development. It will also provide regulation of flows on Athi River downstream of the dam for flood and drought mitigation. The TMWDP targets broad improvement in productivity and livelihoods over a ten-year period, ending 2023.

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The Program recognizes the symbiotic relationship between Kenya’s water secure and water
insecure regions by spanning both the lower and higher levels of the economy to ensure national economic growth is both inclusive and sustainable. The Program is sub-divided into four phases. Estimated cost of all four phases of Thwake Multi-Purpose Water Development Program is UA 487 million.

Phase 1 is estimated at UA 179.3 million, and includes: consultant services for design and supervision of works; a panel of dam experts; construction of a 77m high rockfill dam and associated structures; catchment rehabilitation/protection; studies and designs for subsequent phases and to enhance phase 1 implementation; climate change training; and technical assistance. For phase 1, ADB Group allocated a total of UA 60.00 million from ADF-12 resources and the Government committed to provide the remaining UA 119.3 million.

In phase 1, the program will increase water security by providing 681 million cubic metres (MCM) of water storage, earmarked for phases 2, 3 and 4 as follows: 34 MCM for human consumption, 625 MCM for double usage (power generation and downstream irrigation), 22 MCM for upstream irrigation, and an allocation for downstream conservation flow. The target population will benefit from an abundant supply of potable water which will lead to improved health and spur economic development throughout the area and in Konza City.

The Thwake Multi-purpose Dam is located immediately downstream (1km) from the confluence of Athi and Thwake rivers in Mavindini Division (on the Makueni side) and Kanyangi Division (on the Kitui side) while the flow back will extend into Kathulumbi Division of Mbooni district to the northwest of the dam site.

The dam will cover an area of approximately 2,900ha spanning Makueni, Kitui and Mbooni districts with a catchment area spanning about 10,276km2 reaching as far as the Ngong hills, Kikuyu escarpments and the lower reaches of the aberdares. The Dam is a rock-fill dam characterized by an impervious concrete face, 80.5 m in height, with a crest at 920.5 m a.s.l. The foreseen reservoir storage volume is 688 Mm3.

It is designed to serve among other locations Mavindini, Kanthuni, Kitise, Kithuki, Kathonzweni and Mbuvo in Makueni district and other areas within Kibwezi district downstream of the dam site as well parts of Kitui district that are favoured by the topography of the project site. Below is the project’s timeline and all you need to know:

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2017

The county governments of Makueni and Kitui respectively signed a contract to construct the Thwake Multi-Purpose Dam. The contract was between the Government and China Gezhouba Group Company.

Water Cabinet Secretary Mr. Eugene Wamalwa, said that the dam was the largest project of its kind in East Africa and construction will commence in the following 3 months.

April 2017: Tender for Kenya’s Thwake dam cancelled

Water and Irrigation ministry has been ordered to award the contract for first phase of construction of $604.3m Thwake Dam to China Gezhouba GroupTender for Kenya’s Thwake dam cancelled, the lowest bidder.

The Public Procurement Administrative Review Board (PPARB) on Wednesday faulted the decision of the former Irrigation Principal Secretary Mwangi Nduati to award the contract to Sinohydro Tianjin Engineering Limited.

In its decision, the board was particularly critical of Mr Nduati’s decision to ignore advice from the Attorney-General and the African Development Bank (AfDB), which is the co-financier of the project.

Mr Nduati was the Accounting Officer and clashed with Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa over the matter.The ministry was ordered to comply with the decision to reverse the award to Sinohydro within 14 days.

Mr Nduati’s decision came under more scrutiny after the ministry’s head of procurement, George Marete, disowned the award to Gezhouba.

The ministry admitted that its former accounting officer and the tender committee he appointed made a mistake in ignoring the report of the evaluation committee, which had pointed at Gezhouba as the lowest bidder.
On the other hand, Sinohtdro wanted the board to have the entire process cancelled and a fresh tender advertised.

Gezhouba bid approximately $358m for the first phase while Sinohydro $383m for the first phase of the project to put up a dam on the border of Kitui and Makueni counties.

Mr Nduati’s decision had put the future of the project in jeopardy as the AfDB had already indicated it was not willing to cooperate without an explanation of why the lowest bidder had been rejected.

The Principal Secretary’s basis was that the contractor had been barred from doing business with AfDB but the bank itself had stated that the debarment had been lifted and there was thus no problem. The bank is to foot 35% of the costs of the project.

November 2017: US $582m Thwake Multi-Purpose Dam contract signed

The county governments of Makueni and Kitui respectively signed a contract to construct the Thwake Multi-Purpose Dam. The contract is between the Government and China Gezhouba Group Company. It also ensures that construction of the dam located in Kitui County starts immediately.

According to the water Cabinet Secretary Mr. Eugene Wamalwa, the dam is currently the largest project of its kind in East Africa. It will commence in the next 3 months. Thwake Dam will provide clean water to over 1.3m people.

The dam will store over 150,000 cubic meters of water. Some of this will get channeled towards irrigation efforts. The area is not endowed with surface water resources. That is,  save for the perennial Athi River which drains vast areas of the basin before into the Indian Ocean near Malindi Town.

Also read: 3 projects to end perennial water shortages in Kenya

Increase in water storage

Several other seasonal tributaries which carry huge volumes of water during the rainy seasons feed into the river. One of these rivers is the Thwake River, which joins the main Athi River near Kathukuni and Nduyu Hills in the Makueni and Kitui counties respectively. The dam will increase water storage for rural and urban domestic and hydropower.

Over 1,800 youth will gain direct employment while another 6,000 indirectly through the project. On the other hand 30,000 local suppliers and sub-contractors will benefit directly from the project. The dam will be the source of water for the proposed Konza ICT City. Areas targeted as main beneficiaries of water are Kathonzweni, Wote, Kibwezi and the neighbouring areas in Makueni County and the Yatta Plateau in Kitui County.

September 2020: Ongoing construction of Thwake Multipurpose dam in Kenya on track

The ongoing construction works of Thwake Multipurpose dam project at the confluence of river Thwake and Athi river in the Eastern region of Kenya are reportedly on course and within the required completion timeline.

According to the East African country government officials, the project’s construction works are over 37 percent complete and the pending succession disputes with people affected by the project have been resolved. Plans to ensure that the contractor, China Gezhouba Group Corporation (CGGC), is paid in good time have also been laid out as well to enable the successful and timely completion of the project.

Implementation of the project

The Thwake Multipurpose dam project is being implemented in four phases. The first phase, which is currently under execution, involves the construction of an 80.5m high multi-purpose dam with a storage capacity of 688 million cubic meters and associated preliminary works needed to enable the undertaking of the other three phases.

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The second phase will involve the construction of an electricity substation and a hydropower plant that is expected to generate at least 20 megawatts of electricity, while phase three will involve the development of a water supply system to treat and distribute up to 150,000 cubic meters of water per day to the rural inhabitants of Kitui and Makueni counties as well as some parts of Machakos County.

The fourth and the last phase of the project will involve the development of irrigation works for up to 40,075 hectares of land in Kitui and Makueni counties.

July 2021: Construction of Thwake Multipurpose dam project to be complete by 2022

Construction of Thwake Multipurpose dam project in Kenya is set to be completed by next year. President Uhuru Kenyatta inspected the works and assured they will be done by June.

The dam project is a key enabler for the realization of the GOK’s Big 4 Agenda and Vision 2030 blueprint. It is jointly being funded by the Government of Kenya and the African Development Bank (AfDB). China Gezhouba Group Corporation (CGGC) is the contractor.

The Thwake Multipurpose dam project is being implemented in four phases. The first phase, which is currently under execution, involves the construction of an 80.5m high multi-purpose dam with a storage capacity of 688 million cubic meters and associated preliminary works needed to enable the undertaking of the other three phases.

Also Read:Ongoing construction of Thwake Multipurpose dam in Kenya on track

Clean-up of the Nairobi River

Phase two will involve the construction of an electricity substation and a hydropower plant that is expected to generate at least 20MW of electricity, while phase three will see the development of a water supply system to treat and distribute up to 150,000 cubic meters of water per day to the rural inhabitants of Kitui and Makueni counties as well as some parts of Machakos County.

Development of irrigation works for up to 40,075 hectares of land in Kitui and Makueni counties, will be the fourth phase of the project. Upon completion, the project is expected to benefit close to over 1.3 million rural inhabitants of the three counties that it is situated in proximity to. President Uhuru ordered Nema to immediately commence the clean-up of the Nairobi River and other rivers upstream to ensure the water that will be fed into the dam will be safe for human consumption.

October
The African Development Bank (AfDB) lauded the advancement of the designs of three vital components of the Thwake Multi-purpose Dam developed by the China Gezhouba Group Company (CGGC). CGGC revealed that the construction works was at 62 percent completion even though the covid-19 outbreak had disrupted the operations. It is however anticipated that the mega-dam scheme would be ready in time for commissioning in June 2022 by the president. The construction at the dam was ongoing in four phases, namely; main dam construction, generation of electricity, water supply distribution to residents, and most importantly, the irrigation element, set to be operational by 2023.

The AfDB Director revealed that the bank, as at October, had disbursed Sh22 billion to the Ministry of Water and Sanitation for the dam’s construction that would have a significant impact especially on the socio-economic of the region’s residents. The dam is expected to generate 150, 000 cubic meters of clean water on daily basis, able to supply to more than 1.3 million residents and also to Konza Techno City. On electricity generation, it is expected that 20 MW would be generated and used to pump water for irrigation on 100,000 acres of land.

January 2022: Thwake Dam Project in Kenya Over 65% Complete, Well On Course for June 2022 Deadline

The Thwake Dam Project or rather Thwake Multi-purpose Water Development Program that is being carried out on the Athi River, at the border between Makueni and Kitui Counties in Kenya, is currently over 65% complete and expected to be fully completed by June this year (2022).

This was announced by China Ghezoubha Group Company Limited, the company implementing the multi-billion shilling project, during a recent ceremony for the closure and diversion of Athi river water into two newly constructed mega tunnels at the project site so as to allow the contractor to embark on the major excavation works for the main dam.

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Measuring 700 meters in length and 12 meters in depth, the tunnels according to Frank Keeh, China Gezhouba Group Company Limited General Manager, are designed in such a way that they can allow passage of 11,480 cubic meters of water flow per second.

This is reportedly enough to allow the flow of the swollen Athi River before its waters are channeled to rejoin the original course to the Indian Ocean.

Commitment in fast-tracking completion of the Thwake Dam Project

Speaking at the ceremony for the closure and diversion of Athi and Thwake rivers, Makueni County Commissioner Maalim Mohammed re-affirmed the government’s commitment to fast-tracking the project towards successful completion.

He said, “Various Ministries, State Department, and Agencies are working together as the project stakeholders to ensure that the contractor is paid on time to fast track the construction work at the site and they have no reason to delay,” adding that the government is in the final stages of acquiring additional 60 acres of land at a cost of approximately 45 million to facilitate construction of spillway, employers’ camp, and dam expansion.

“The National Treasury has already handed the monies to the National Land Commission and the process of compensating project affected persons (PAPs) who have already signed the awards to pave way for the construction has begun,” explained the Makueni County Commissioner.

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Dennis Ayemba
Dennis Ayemba
Country/ Features Editor, Kenya

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