Water CS now being treated as suspect in Itare dam scandal
Water Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui was by Wednesday evening being treated as a suspect in the controversial 28.9 billion Itare Dam project after it emerged that advance payments were made to a contractor who failed to complete the dam under his watch.
Mr Chelugui, who spent half of the day at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) headquarters, was asked 120 questions relating to the failed projects. Mr Chelugui, who was not accompanied by a lawyer, was asked to return to Kiambu Road this morning as the detectives felt he had not responded adequately to their questions.
The questions mostly dwelt on advance payments made to broke Italian firm CMC di Ravenna by the Water ministry, even when was clear that the contractor was already having problems delivering the Kimwarer and Arror projects, which have since failed.
Itare Dam which was supposed to yield 100,000 cubic metres of water per day, was meant to provide a viable, long- term solution to water shortages in the Nakuru Municipality, Kuresoi, Molo, Njoro and Rongai areas.
According to the Rift Valley Water Services Board, the implementing agency, the project was to comprise “a 57m high dam, 100,000 cubic metre per day water treatment works, a 1.2m diameter 113km pipeline, a 14.5 kilometres bulk transfer tunnel, plus a sewerage network and treatment works.” The dam was supposed to serve over 800,000 people.
On July 15, 2015, the National Treasury signed a loan agreement with Italian financiers BNP Paribas Fortis and Intesa Sanpaolo for the project’s funding. . Current Devolution CS Eugene Wamalwa had just appointed Water CS. He left the docket in July, 2018, but the payments did not stop even after Kimwarer and Arror started having problems. Taxpayers have paid Sh11 billion for the project, which stalled at just 30 percent.
Mr Chelugui is said to have told Economic Crimes Department detectives that the payments were made by his PS, Mr Irungu Wairagu, who is also due for questioning.