We must fast-track Thwake Dam downstream phases to ensure food and nutrition security, says Water CS. Wahome

We must fast-track Thwake Dam downstream phases to ensure food and nutrition security, says Water CS. Wahome

Wote, Makueni, Tuesday, December 20, 2022

The State will expedite the roll-out of remaining critical downstream phases of Thwake Multipurpose Dam whose first phase is under construction to ensure food security for Lower Eastern region, the Cabinet Secretary for Water, Sanitation and Irrigation Hon. Alice Wahome has said.

Speaking on Tuesday, December 20, 2022 during an inspection tour of the project jointly funded by the Government of Kenya and African Development Bank (AfDB), the CS assured that her ministry will move with speed and ensure the first phase of the dam is completed by June 2024.

“The progress is impressive and encouraging. The government will be supportive and act as a facilitator to safeguard billions of tax payer’s money which is being pumped into this project. I’m mostly interested in downstream food security component because the three counties of Makueni, Kitui and Machakos have fertile soils for farming. We must fast-track the other phases since Head of State is keenly looking at commissioning this dam,” she said.

As of December 2022, the construction progress stood at 77.07 per cent against overall time lapse of 74.52 per cent – considering the extended period of June 2024.

She added that the project would have moved faster, but the process of mobilizing Sh37 Billion for construction works, settling the Project Affected Persons (PAPs), legal issues and other construction challenges slowed down works.

“We are very clear now where we are headed and will not allow any unnecessary delay. We will work with the contractor and implementing teams. We have no time to waste since our people are waiting for this water,” said the CS who was accompanied by the Principal Secretary, Dr. Paul Ronoh, Makueni County Governor Mutula Kilonzo, Makueni County Commissioner Beverly Opwora, Water Secretary Eng. Samwel Alima, EBS, Program Coordinator Eng. David Onyango among a host of leaders from the county and local administration.

While promising enough water to residents, the CS was hopeful that in two years’ time, the commodity will be available and be supplied to people since completion period of June 2024 is already moving at a pace “we’ve agreed considering time that will be needed to fill up the dam.”

“Millions of people drawn from these regions are eagerly waiting for water and this is why the Makueni Governor Hon. Mutula (Kilonzo) is here,” she added.

The minister also revealed that treatment works will be done concurrently with dam filling.

On pollution, she added that the newly formed Nairobi Rivers Commission will work with all the relevant multi-agency teams and ministries on clean-up of Athi River. Revealing that the Nairobi Rivers Commission is already attracting a lot of interest and funding, the CS directed the enforcement teams to crack the whip.

“One of mandate of my ministry is to ensure Kenyans access clean and safe water. Industries emitting chemicals and farming practices along the river banks must stop forthwith,” she directed urging the media to lead in the advocacy campaigns by naming and shaming.

She encouraged the contractor to work within human rights parameters when blasting and ensure communities benefit from the available opportunities – both skilled and unskilled labour.

Speaking during the tour, Governor Mutula urged the ministry to rehabilitate the local access roads while appreciating the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives done. He registered his support for the project.