The construction of a Multi-Billion Itare Water dam in Ndoinet Forest SHOULD BE STOPPED, the Kipsigis Council of elders have demanded, they the National Government to halt the project.
They say that its construction endangers livelihood of more than 2.6 million people living in Kericho, Bomet and Nyamira Counties.
According to elders led by Edwin Kimetto and William Ketienya, the forest is a catchment area of seven rivers benefitting thousands of locals and livestock from South rift and its establishment amounts to drying up Kericho and Bomet Counties to benefit Baringo and upper Nakuru residents.
“We as the residents of Kericho and Bomet counties are opposed to this project which is going to rob the Kipsigis Community its natural heritage and livelihoods of thousands of generations to come” the statement issued to press read.
Meandering water flow uphill is said to be breaching Kalenjin Culture and has consequently received sharp criticism from locals faulting the government that forced in the project without consulting the residents who are stakeholders on how to.
The statement signed by Mr. Kimetto questions why the project was not discussed at the National Assembly.
The Project will cost the government sh. 30, billion and intended to serve 800,000 people from Molo,Njoro, Kuresoi, Rongai and Nakuru town.
The construction is managed by Rift Valley Water Services board and comprises 57 metres high dam, treatment of 100,000 cubic metres a day, a pipeline of 113 kilometres of 1.2 metres diameter and 14.5 kilometre bulk transfer tunnel.
Contractor is due to start construction when the loan signed by the National Government on 15th July 2015 with BNP Paribas Fortis and Intesa Sanpaolo of Italy matures.
“The water tower source feeds rivers in Kericho, Bomet and some parts of Nyamira and Migori Counties supporting agricultural plants and animals which will be adversely affected” part of statement read.
Elders have extended their fear to tea crop in the region that is the main source of income to the residents “Commissioning of the project, will mark the end of tea industry in Kericho, Bomet and Nyamira which is supporting 2.5 million people both residents and tea estate employees” the statement continued reading.
They added that the environmental degradation that will result will affect Lake Victoria and River Nile consequently upsetting the global ecological conditions.
Mr. William Ketienya said the Kenyan Constitutions requires that effective public participation is done prior to execution of projects involving county governments and public communities.
“In respect to Itare water dam, there was no forum convened to explain to the affected communities” he added.
They have further demanded that the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) to publish its report of the same in all media houses
Kimetto urged the government to halt the commissioning until proper public participation is done saying ignoring their position amounts to an intention targeted to sabotage economic nerve centre of the region and shall have serious consequences.
“We are appealing to the governors of the affected counties to take practical steps and ensure due procedure is adhered to” he added.
Kimetto raised the issue to Water and Irrigations Cabinet Secretary Eugine Wamalwa during his recent tour to Kericho who said the government has developed a policy to benefit to residents.
Wamalwa’s response was unsatisfactory to elders who want the project stop.