•The multibillion project stalled after the contractor suspended the construction works six months ago due to inadequate funding and delayed payments
•The project is designed to control flooding in Nyando, irrigation, hydropower generation and supply of portable water in Kisumu and Kericho counties
The government has started fresh negotiations to revive the stalled Sh19.9 billion Soin-Koru dam project.
The dam is expected to supply water in Kisumu and Kericho counties and end the perennial Kano basin floods.
Water and Irrigation Cabinet Secretary Zachariah Njeru said the government is in talks with the contractors, China Jianxi International Kenya and China Jianxi International Economic and Cooperation Company to resume work.
The project stalled six months ago due to inadequate funding and delayed payments.
The dam, which is located between Kericho and Kisumu counties, was expected to be completed in 2027.
Njeru said the project fully-funded by the government of Kenya, was critical in boosting water and food security.
“We know what the dam means to farmers at Ahero Irrigation Scheme towards enhanced rice production,” he said.
Njeru, who inspected the progress of the dam, said the construction will be expedited.
The CS was accompanied by Irrigation PS Ephantus Kimotho, acting Irrigation secretary Vincent Kabuti, National Irrigation Authority chairman Gibert Maluki and NIA chief executive officer Charles Muasya.
Njeru said the dam will supply 72,000 cubic metres of water per day in Kapsoit, Kaitui, Kipsitet, Katitu, Muhoroni, Awasi and Ahero towns.
Besides water and food security, the project will generate of 2.5 megawatts at the Sondu Miriu Power Station.
Njeru said NIA will decommission the water pumping project as water will flow by gravity to farmers once the dam is completed.
This will help the authority to save about Sh4.5 million monthly on the Ahero Irrigation Scheme.
More than 30,000 farmers are currently benefiting from the scheme.
Njeru commended the scheme management and committed to support the farmers and the authority to achieve its vision.
Currently, 17,000 acres are actively under the irrigation scheme, with rice being the main crop.
Other crops include, soybean seeds, commercial soybeans, watermelon, maize, tomatoes, sorghum green-grams, cowpeas and pulses.
“We are importing 700,000 metric tonnes of rice every year. This can be stopped when more acreage is under irrigation,” Njeru said.
Kimotho said the state department of irrigation managed to put 47,033 acres under irrigation.
He said the government will this year put an additional 60,000 acres.
“By 2027, we intend to have one million acres. In the plan, Western region is one of the areas the government will intensify irrigation infrastructure,” Kimotho said.
The PS said Nyanza and Western regions have the best water basins for irrigation.
“We want to maximise the available opportunity by first securing enough water for irrigation to achieve food security,” he said.
Kimotho said Ahero scheme has contributed to rice production, enhanced families' incomes and reducing rice imports.
Thi is as espoused in the Bottom Up Economic Transformation Agenda.
Maluki said NIA is committed to address challenges facing farmers in Kisumu.
He said they will procure a new water pump to address water back flow from Lake Victoria.
“We are also working with the county government to repair feeder roads within the schemes. We have already allocated some money for the repair and we are also lobbying the county to do the same,” Maluki said.
The authority is in the process of procuring three water pumps for the schemes.
Last year, Project manager Eng Julius Mugun told the committee on Blue Economy and Water and that the contractor suspended work due to delayed payments.
Mugun said the contractor demanded Sh846.5 million before resuming the excavation works after receiving advance payments of Sh499 million, which was used to mobilise equipment and workers.
The advanced payment was also spent in setting a contractor campsite, a resident engineers camp and geotechnical investigation for the dam site and construction materials.
“The excavation of the spillway is 50 per cent complete,” Mugun said.
In the 2022-23 financial year, the government only allocated Sh100 million to the project against the proposed Sh3 billion, making it difficult for the contractor to continue with the work.
“The delay in disbursement of funds for the project was set to escalate the contract sum due to price adjustments and penalties,” Mugun said.
The committee was told that the government has not acquired the entire dam project area, with more than 45 per cent of the affected families from Kisumu and Kericho counties owed Sh2.2 billion in compensation.
He said the funding from the government was not adequate to complete the project within the 60 months.
The National Water Harvesting and Storage Authority is exploring other ways to raise funds for the project.