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December 19, 2018

Nyamira residents protest against Sh5bn water project

Residents of Gachuba ward demonstrate against Sh5 billion Bonyunyu dam on January 8, 2018
Residents of Gachuba ward demonstrate against Sh5 billion Bonyunyu dam on January 8, 2018

A Sh5 billion water project in Nyamira county may not take off after residents rejected it, saying it is being implemented without public participation.

On Monday, residents demonstrated against the Bonyunyu Dam project on the River Gucha in Gachuba ward, Kitutu Masaba constituency. Construction of the dam is aimed at ending water shortage in Kisii town. It is funded by The Netherlands government.

The residents want the feasibility study and environmental impact assessment reports made public. They also want the issue of compensation clarified.

Yesterday, former Kitutu Masaba MP Timothy Bosire joined the residents in rejecting the project. Speaking to the Star on the phone, Bosire accused the government of arm-twisting the residents to accept the project.

“The land where the project will be se up is not idle land. It is occupied and the people want to know their fate once they are displaced. This project must be resisted at all costs,” said the former law maker.

He added, “The environmental issues must be addressed. A project of that magnitude cannot be done without people knowing how it will affect them. The people will be displaced yet nobody has come up to say where they are going to be settled.”

Gachuba MCA Gilbert Nchore said, “We do not have information about the construction of the dam. We will keep on demonstrating until we have clear information. The government cannot force us on a project we are not comfortable with.”

They are also demanding the release of residents arrested recently in a demonstration against the project. They are currently in police custody.

Resident Charles Mokua said, “We have not been consulted on the project. We know our land will be affected by the project, hence we need to be consulted.”

Kitutu Masaba MP Shadrack Mose said he cannot comment on the project because he doesn’t have enough information. Speaking to the Star on the phone yesterday, Mose said, “Some people attempted to torch my house over this project. I’m looking for documentation concerning the project before I comment.”

Nyamira county commissioner Isaiah Nakoru led a team of local politicians and officials from the Lake Victoria South Water Services Board in a meeting with the residents. They aimed to solve the controversy surrounding the construction of the dam.

Nakoru said the residents had the wrong information about the dam and warned against politicising the project.

Lake Victoria Water Services Board director Victor Omanwa said several public participation forums were organised. He warned the ongoing wrangles may derail the project.

Board chairman John Koech last year said the project is among several others the board is undertaking to alleviate water shortage.

“We are fast-tracking implementation of these projects to alleviate the suffering of Kisii county residents. The number of carts ferrying water jerrycans is worrying. Due to increasing population and poor protection of the environment, we must craft sustainable solutions to water problems,” Koech said when he met Governor James Ongwae.

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