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September 25, 2018

Sh4bn project in Rachuonyo yet to benefit farmers 8 years on

When the construction of the multi-billion Kimira-Oluch Smallholder Farm Improvement Project started in Rachuonyo and Rangwe sub counties, most of the farmers were against it.

Some disowned it and refused to give way for the construction work, and others demanded higher compensation for major tunnels to pass through their farms.

However, they later agreed after consultations with the provincial administration and KOSFIP officials.

Construction work began in 2007 but eight years later, the over Sh4 billion project is yet to be completed.

The project is being undertaken by the African Development Bank and the Government of Kenya.

Onesmus Maina from the African Development Bank said all the construction works were supposed to end by the end of July this year.

He wondered why the contractors had not finished the project even after getting almost two years extension.

“By now the project could have been over and handed over to the 5,000 beneficiaries to start realising its benefits,” said Maina during a tour of the project.

Maina accuses the contractors of dishonesty at the time of signing the contracts.

“All the contractors said they had all the required machineries while signing the contract and some now claim that they do not have 100 per cent mobilisation,” said Maina.

Senior deputy secretary in the ministry of environment David Oyosi said they are considering revoking the contracts and awarding them to the performing ones.

“We should not play games or take farmers for a ride, the contractors have been given enough time to complete the minor works but it seems they are overwhelmed. Even if we add you more time, how sure are we that you will work to beat the deadline? It is better to give the work to a contractor who can perform,” Oyosi told the contractors.

The contractors however complained about a delay by the treasury to release funds while some expressed lack of equipment, but Maina was quick to add that the delay of the money should not be an excuse since much of the money has been paid.

The contractors asked for additional three to six months to enable them complete the remaining works.

“During the signing of the contract, they clearly agreed that they had all the equipment for the work, but are now saying they lack some machines; it seems they lied to the committee,” said Maina.

According to Nelson Korir, the project manager, all the 97 blocks have water but it may not reach all the 5,000 direct beneficiaries due to the ongoing construction of the minor works.

“The project will benefit 5,000 households directly and another 400,000 indirectly using the farmers field school approach. It will also to give support to extension workers where up to 120 extension staff will be trained based on the training needs assessment report,” he said.

Korir said his officers have done their best in preparing the farmers to start utilising the irrigation water.

Lilian Cherono, a senior agronomist, said the department has already carried out 13 training sessions for 745 farmers on integrated approaches to farming, focusing on crops and livestock enterprises.

They have also done soil sampling and analysis. “We have so far conducted study tours to 239 farmers in Homa Hills, Uyoma Yala swamps, Wei Wei and Mitunguu irrigation projects among others. Some 300 farmers were also trained on paddy rice production and provided with IR2793 variety,” Cherono said.

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