Residents of Muhoroni Sub-County in Kisumu County have today pleaded with the National Assembly’s Committee on Blue Economy and Irrigation to see the realisation of the multibillion Soin-Koru Dam water project in the middle of Kisumu and Kericho Counties.
Speaking during a fact finding mission on the status of the project in sittings attended by Kisumu County Commissioner Hussein Allassow Hussein, local residents and leaders heading water bodies in the area, the residents also presented a number of challenges facing the project. Among them is the lack of budget allocation. In the 2023/24 financial year, there was an expectation of Kshs. 3 billion but only Ksh. 100 million was appropriated towards the project.
“Mr. Chairman, we are glad that this Committee has come here. We hope this helps us get the funds we require to move foward. We are requesting for Ksh. 800 billion to 1 billion to be able to move. However, proposing that the project be undertaken under Public-Private- Partnership (PPP) can not be the solution. We feel frustrated Chair”, Mr. Tonny, the lead contractor, told the Committee.
The other challanges hindering progress on the project included escalation of the contract sum due to price adjustments and delays by the government to acquire the entire land required to realise the project. A compensation fee of 2 billion is required to pay locals who gave out their land to the project started in 1998.
Committee Vice Chairperson Hon. Marwa Maisori (Kuria East) who led the delegation assured the locals of the Committee’s commitment to support the project.
“Through this Committee, a legislative intervention will come up including some budgetary proposals to help move the project foward. We are not here for any mediations, but to oversight and help realise the project for the benefit of the communities living here”, he added.
Hon. Eng. Paul Nzengu (Mwingi North) assured residents that the Committee would be their mouth piece to push for appropriation of funds through Parliamentary budgets with an aim of ensuring that the project is completed. His sentiments were echoed by Hon. Kassim Tandaza (Matuga) and Hon. Hon. Mohammed Adow (Wajir South).
“I have noted this is a project in distress, looking at the ministry’s budget for the financial year 2023/24, a total of about 5B had been allocated. However, very little of that has been disbursed . This is a great project, but releasing only a paltry Ksh. 100 million is a waste of resources. Chair, there will be more penalties if the project delays. We need to think outside the box and look at other ways of funding the project if we are to realise it”, Hon. Eng. Tandaza held .
The Committee later in the day visited the Ahero Irrigation Scheme which hosts 12 rice production blocks with 3 farms. Members were informed that the schemes expansion which is projected to raise rice production to over Ksh. 6 billion annually is dependent on the completion of Soin-Koru Dam.
The Scheme established in 1966 require funding and rehabilitation to benefit more locals. The locals also requested Hon. Members to look into legislation to help stop the issue of rice importation currently suffocating the local market.
Other challenges raised at the Ahero Irrigation scheme included frequent power outages. The management appealed for solar power projects and modern rice mills to help support in value addition , as is the case in Uganda, currently.
The host MP. Hon. James Onyango Koyoo (Muhoroni) pleaded with the Committee to ensure that politics do not suffocate the Soin-Koru Dam project which has the potential to benefit locals the the entire Nyanza region and the larger Kericho County.