State releases Sh600m to revive Thiba Dam project
Construction of the controversial Sh20 billion Thiba Dam meant to boost rice production in the giant Mwea Irrigation Scheme in Kirinyaga County has resumed following the release of Sh600 million by the national government.
According to the Strabag Company, all workers who were sent home last year after the mega project halted have been recalled.
“We have resumed construction work after the government availed some of the funds,” said one of senior company managers, James Karanja.
However, Mr Karanja said the money was not enough and the company will be demanding some more from government.
“We expected to receive Sh2 billion but the government gave us only Sh600 million which is not enough to complete the project,” he added.
The project was put on hold in October due to a financial crisis.
While launching the mega project meant to double rice production, President Uhuru Kenyatta had directed the project be completed within the stipulated time frame. Mwea Scheme produces 80 percent of rice consumed nationally.
Currently Kenya produces 100,000 tonnes of rice annually which is not enough for local consumption, creating a dependence on exports to meet the deficit.
Meanwhile the Sogea Company which has been expanding rice canals in the scheme has terminated its construction due to non-payment of a Sh300 million debt.
The company has already written to the government saying it has stopped the construction work.
Mwea Member of Parliament Kabinga Wathayu admitted that the government has not paid Sogea its money and that is why it has withdrawn from the scheme.
Mr Kabinga promised to liaise with the government so that the company can be paid its due.