Construction works on the US $195m Thiba Dam in Kirinyaga County has been halted. Central Regional Commissioner Wilfred Nyangangwa confirmed the report and said that the close down, attributed to cash flow from the treasury.
He explained that the project halted due to failure to pay the contractor, Strabag Company. This resulted to over 300 workers previously engaged by the contractor suspended. The government has not remitted money in excess of US $10m.
The commissioner has however assured that the problem will be solved soon. “Construction has temporarily been suspended due to problem of resources. As the Chair of the Regional National Government Project Implementation Team, I have impressed upon officials at the treasury to address the issue. Once the problem is addressed, the project will resume in the shortest time possible, we are taking the matter seriously,” said Wilfred Nyangangwa.
Thiba Dam project’s aim is mainly to boost rice production in Kirinyaga County and improve the country’s food security. It is also a major solution to water shortage in Mwea. It involves of major irrigation and feeder canals up to the farms.
Upon completion it is expected to provide irrigation water to the 7,952Ha Mwea Irrigation Settlement Scheme, which produces over 60% of rice grown in Kenya. The dam will also allow production of other crops such as maize and vegetables. Money from annual sales attained from the completed dam is also expected to double up from the current US $28m to US $46m. The project was expected to be completed in 45 months. It is currently 30% complete.
The construction of the Thiba Dam is being financed in partnership with Japanese Government through Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). When fully complete, the Dam will be 40m tall and 1km long and is expected to have a holding capacity of 15 million cubic meters.
Data from the Kenya Bureau of Statistics shows that Kenya imports rice every year largely from Pakistan, Thailand, India and Vietnam. It is estimated that with the completion of Thiba Dam, the amount used for import will be reduced by half or even more if it succeeds in increasing water supply, to allow for three seasons of rice per year, unlike the current one season.