Another dam project’s billions goes missing

Image result for Thwake dam

Probe into the misuse of Ksh 21 billions meant for construction of two dams in Rift Valley, Arror and Kimwarer dams, is still ongoing, raising queries in the involvement of key politicians in the scandal. However, that was not the only funds to get misused in construction of such projects. Auditor General Edward Ouko has questioned the expenditure of Sh1.56 billion in the first phase of the Sh82.2 billion Thwake dam project in Makueni.

In a 2017-18 report on the multi-purpose water development programme, he says the Irrigation PS was not involved even though he was the accounting officer responsible for the project.

Image result for Thwake dam

“The AIE holder for the year under review was not part of the programme management. There was limited control by the Programme Coordinator of the expenditure totalling Sh1,525,427,532 charged to the programme under the government’s counter fund payments,” the report says.

Also questioned is the discrepancy in payment between the figures captured in the National Treasury’s State Department of Irrigation IFMIS Appropriations Account and those captured in the physical receipts.

In the IFMIS, Sh4.97 billion was captured while the corresponding receipts total Sh4.93 billion. The resulting Sh35.5 million difference could not be explained.

Ouko also raised the red flag over the land that was supposed to be compensated to make room for the project. Owners of 77 out of 1,792 parcels were not compensated even though the government released Sh1.3 billion to the National Land Commission.

The project is to be implemented in four phases. It is being undertaken on 9,158 acres. Some 1,792 households in Makueni and Kitui counties have been compensated for their land to pave the way for its implementation.

A man points at the proposed site of Thwake Dam

Ouko says the dam could stall for lack of funds. He says the government has only provided funding for the first phase. National Assembly Majority leader Aden Duale tabled the report in Parliament last Thursday. Only Sh42.3 billion has been factored in the budget for the first phase. Ouko says the government has yet to negotiate or look for financiers for the three remaining phases.

The project is meant to end the perennial water shortage in Ukambani and provide electricity. The first phase is co-funded by the government and the African Development Bank.

It involves construction of the dam and associated infrastructure for Sh42.3 billion. Of this, the government provided Sh34.3 billion and the AfDB Sh8 billion. This phase is being implemented.

“The remainder of the phases with a budget of Sh39.8 billion is yet to be financed or planned for,” the report reads.

The second phase will involve generation of hydroelectric power from the dam. The government will contribute Sh10.5 billion while the AfDB will give ShSh3.8 billion. Sanitation and wastewater infrastructure will be built in the third phase for Sh10.6 billion.

The last phase will involve irrigation projects and will cost the government and the bank Sh24.1 billion. Ouko also raised the red flag over payouts for landowners. Owners of 77 out of 1,792 parcels were not compensated even though the government released Sh1.3 billion to the National Land Commission.

The report comes in the wake of intense investigations by the DCI over alleged embezzlement of funds in the construction of Kamwaror and Arror dams for Sh21 billion in Elgeyo Marakwet county. Top government officials, among them Treasury CS Henry Rotich, have been questioned by detectives in connection with the projects.

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