The Community expected to be affected by the establishment of Sh.28 Billion Kimwarer -Talaal multi-purpose dam in Keiyo South, Elgeyo Marakwet county has demanded full disclosure of the relevant information prior to the project implementation.
Speaking during a public meeting attended by Kerio Valley Development Authority KVDA top management officials Jackson Kiptanui (chairman) and David Kimosop (CEO), the community demanded to be furnished with land compensation, relocation arrangements, employment and Corporate investment initiatives.
The meeting held at Kewapmwen village, along the edges of the project site on Thursday was also attended by officials from the Italian company awarded the tender to build the Mega Dam and county government officials.
"We want to register our displeasure today as the people whose settlements will be affected by this project. We have never been contacted before yet KVDA claims to have conducted over 60 citizen engagement meetings about this project. We have seen KVDA officials and their agents criss-crosing our farms doing survey without our knowledge," said a resident Ms Helen Ruto.
The concerned residents said the discussions surrounding the establishment of the Dam in an area like Kimwarer where it is prone to landslides evoked memories of the Solai Patel Dam tragedy in Nakuru county which burst claiming lives of 48 people.
Another resident Paul Kandie said the available KVDA's sketch map drawing of the project had sidelined them in supply of piped water and electricity connectivity.
"In as much as you might assume we are uneducated villagers, beware we went to school during our time and we can still interpret the map. We have noticed serious concerns in the sketch map," said the resident.
Abraham Barsosio, the County government minister for Environment who represented Governor Alex Tolgos alluded to the meeting how KVDA sidelined key stakeholders in the project implementation.
" I want to tell you point blank that you have kept us on the dark yet we are the leaders on the ground. The same way the local community lack information is the same way the county government has no clue about the process yet Wananchi look up to us for reference,"Barsosio told the KVDA authorities.
This has resulted into unwarranted speculation and propaganda, said Barsosio adding that KVDA should clear the air about purpoted claims that the government had set aside Sh.5.8 billion to compensate households who will be displaced by Arror multi-purpose dam in Marakwet West while those in Kimwarer -Talaal in Keiyo south will only get Sh 1.9 billion.
" I am not only representing H.E Governor Tolgos here but I am also a resident and therefore, I am speaking as local who will be directly affected. These people don't have tittle deeds because the area was classified as lease land unlike other places where people have tittle deeds," said Barsosio.
If KVDA had engaged the county government and other relevant stakeholders, such questions could have been sorted instead of being raised in public gatherings, said the CEC.
Responding to the grievances, Mr Kiptanui admitted that it was unfortunate that KVDA failed to bring on board the host county government.
"From now henceforth, we shall ensure that all of you will be meaningfully engaged and we shall notify both the office of the Governor and the County Assembly about our activities," said Kiptanui.
The former Keiyo South MP said all the multi-purpose dams KVDA has built in kenya were upto standard and approved by government engineers unlike the privately Solai Dam, adding that the community should shelve any fears related to the project establishment.
About the contentious KVDA's sketch map that had irked the locals, Mr. kiptanui defended it saying it was just a draft and not final document.
The agency chairman said the Kimwarer-Talaal hydro-power and irrigation project, once implemented, will go a long way in uplifting the development of the region because of the irrigation component that will result into massive food production downstream.
Every household will have electricity and the roads in the area will be tarmacked, said Kiptanui.
He said tarmacking of 50 Kilometers road section in the area will be done as a Corporate social investment.
Soy South MCA Jonah Tanui said despite the public lecture, the community in Kimwarer was receptive and hospitable and therefore the agents of KVDA touring the area do not have to be seeking police escorts.
"We have seen your officials always being accompanied by armed policemen whenever they are touring the project site. This shouldn't be the case. If they have been attacked elsewhere like we heard a mzungu sustaining a panga cut somewhere, we want to assure you that we won't be hostile, we only demand that you treat us fairly," said the MCA.
The Sh.28 billion Kimwarer -Talaal project undertaken by an Italian firm CMC dii Ravena Cooperativa Muratory, is a sister project of another Sh.35 billion Arror hydro-power and irrigation project in Marakwet West. Both projects cost a whooping Sh.63 billion.
Officials of the firm Mr. Antonio Dicumente and Luca Moutanari, the engineering supervisor and Project manager respectively said they were on the site to do survey, and design works starting with the highland and the downstream.
Mr Kimosop said it would take the county government of Elgeyo Marakwet upto 60 years to realise such a magnitude of money and therefore urged the Kimwarer community to embrace the project.
The CEO tactfully avoided answering the questions directed to him and instead said he would expand list of already formed community representatives to accommodate the complaining groups.
The meeting was also attended by MCAs Philip Kipruto (Metkei), Elisha Kiplagat (Kabiemit) , Moreen Masit and Lornah Tanui (nominated) and Keiyo South Assistant County Commissioner George Onyango