Kenya: Looters turn to dams as new conduits for corruption

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Dams are emerging as the new conduits of corruption following reports after reports said President Uhuru Kenyatta reshuffled his principal secretaries following the proposed Sh62.3 billion Thwake Dam tiff.

Top government sources on Sunday revealed that Mr Patrick Nduati, former Water and Irrigation PS, was spared the sack by the President, who was unhappy with the controversy surrounding the contract pitting him against his Cabinet Secretary, Mr Eugene Wamalwa.

While that tussle has been ended with Mr Nduati’s departure, the decision awaits the outcome of an appeal filed at the Public Procurement Administrative Review Board (PPARB) by China Gezhouba Construction Group Corporation. The company lost out despite having submitted the lowest bid and got the clearance of the African Development Bank (AfDB), co-funders of the project.

“The President was not happy about the whole controversy,” said the source. “After a briefing with those concerned, he decided to make a reshuffle of accounting officers with Mr Nduati as the target.

AWARDING CONTRACT

“He is concerned about the need for the country to have enough water for irrigation to make Kenya food-secure.”

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) investigated the matter and advised against awarding the contract. Attorney-General Githu Muigai also gave a negative opinion on the company which the PS insisted on giving the contract, it emerged.

The controversy was only the latest in a string of disputes that have marked the construction of dams and delayed the benefits to millions of Kenyans. As the new Irrigation PS, Ms Zeinab Hussein was handed the onerous task of ensuring that funds are not lost through the contract.

On Sunday, the chairman of the National Assembly’s Agriculture Committee said the concerns of Members of Parliament were that, while the project had been mooted in 2013 and pre-qualification of the firms in the tender had begun in 2015, the whole thing was taking very long.

“We wanted to correct issues but there was a lot of distortion of the story,” said Mr Adan Nooru. “We were concerned that everything that touches on food security in this country is not taking off.

“The only way of getting food security is irrigating arable land. The whole concept was good but the implementation has been a problem.
“It is failing or is not taking off.”

REPORTS OF CORRUPTION

The same could as well be said of other dam projects that have been characterised by reports of corruption, delayed payments to contractors, resistance by communities near the proposed sites and demands for compensation by those being relocated.

©Alleastafrica and Daily Nation

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