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State paid Sh536 million for unbuilt dam last year

Construction of the dam, in the outskirts of Kitui town, started in 2009 and stopped in 2010.

In Summary
• MP Kareke Mbiuki says it was unacceptable to allow such huge government investment to go down the drain

Committee chairman Kareke Mbiuki leads other members during a visit to the abandoned Umaa dam site last Wednesday. Image: Musembi Nzengu

The contractor of the stalled multimillion Umaa dam has been paid Sh536 million even though construction has stopped.

The contractor, Draft and Development Engineers, demanded to be paid Sh1.6 billion but after verification of the claim the amount was reduced.

The National Water Conservation and Pipeline Corporation says construction of the dam, in the outskirts of Kitui town, started in 2009 and stopped in 2010.

The dam was meant to supplement the supply of water to the town from the Masinga-Kitui pipeline.

A report from the NWCPC, recently renamed National Water Harvesting and Storage Authority, say that the complete project would cost Sh824 million.

Arbitrators asked the firm and the NWCPC to resolve the contractual dispute amicably.

The report by the government parastatals general manager for construction Eng. Ali Hassan was presented to the National Assembly Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, which visited the Umaa dam site last Wednesday.

The report said that the Sh1.6 million bill demand to NWCPC, under whose purview the project was being implemented, came when the corporation and the contractor were seeking an amicable settlement.

The court had earlier referred the dispute for arbitration but the arbitrators asked the parties to seek an amicable resolution.

The report says eventually after long-drawn negotiations and verification the Sh1.6 billion claim was eventually downgraded to Sh536 million that was paid to the contractor in 2018.

“The national Treasury released the amount to the ministry which wired the same to the corporation for payment to the contractor. The same was paid in 2018 and the corporation took over the possessions on the site,” said the report.

Umaa dam project was meant to store up to 870 billion litres of water and serve 75,000 people in Kitui town and its environs.

The dispute revolved around the scope of work done and on the review of rates on specific items in the project.
The report further said an unapproved request of project extension time by the contractor was also a bone of contention.

“In the second year of the project, contractual dispute arose on the redefinition of the scope of works, the approval of certificate no.11, review of rates on specific items and unapproved request for extension of time,” said the report.

Speaking at the Umaa dam site on last Wednesday, committee chairman Kareke Mbiuki will impress on the government to ensure that the project was revived. He said it was unacceptable to allow such huge government investment to go down the drain.

The committee members present included MPs Paul Nzengu (Mwingi north), Peter Kihara (Mathioya), Francis Ganya (North Horr) and Benjamin Dalu Tayari (Kinango).

Source: Star