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Speedily bring dams scam culprits to book



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The government must speedily rein in those involved in the phantom dams that have cost taxpayers billions of shillings.

It is distressing that these dams that were meant to improve livelihoods ended up becoming conduits for siphoning huge sums of money from the public.

The whole thing flies in the face of the government’s commitment to ending corruption.

What is upsetting is the brazenness with which the deals were cut and the audacity to pay out cash for work not done.

One involves Kerio Valley Development Authority, which conceptualised and commissioned the construction of two dams in Elgeyo-Marakwet County — Kimwarer and Arror — at a cost of Sh65 billion.

The deal was sealed without the crucial feasibility studies, project designs and background checks. Officials then paid out Sh21 billion, although the sites remain thickets of green forest, pristine and untouched.

Effectively, taxpayers’ cash was used to pay for hot air. Worse, the money was borrowed from banks, and so has to be paid back with interest.

In itself, the contract was awarded corruptly and involved many wheeler-dealers.

According to the plan, the project involved power generation, irrigating some 2,500 hectares to boost food security, enhancing water supply, and generally, improving infrastructure in a region that is largely dry and records high poverty levels. But that is becoming a pipe dream.

Several other dams commissioned elsewhere in the country have either stalled or not taken off despite financial commitments made.

For instance, in Nakuru County, Itare Dam was commissioned last year and billions of shillings paid out as commitment. But the project has since stalled.

An equally depressing case is Galana-Kulalu irrigation scheme in the Coast, which has sunk with some Sh7 billion.

At inception, it was billed as an agricultural masterpiece that would significantly boost food production and help to alleviate hunger, besides other spin-offs such as water supply and infrastructure development.

Another one is Thwake Dam in Ukambani, which is mired in a different sort of controversy as contractors from Makueni, Kitui and Machakos counties tussle over contracts to augment the work of the Chinese firm carrying out the project.

Cumulatively, the mega dam projects are turning out to be scandals of grand proportions and call for drastic punitive actions.

We take note that some Cabinet secretaries have recorded statements over the dams.

With more information coming indicating the long web of individuals and firms involved in the racket, the onus is on the Director of Criminal Investigations to move quickly to conclude inquiries and hand over the files to the Director of Public Prosecution for court trials and retributions.