The National Assembly Departmental Committee on Blue Economy, Water, and Irrigation, led by Hon. David Bowen (Marakwet East) met with Makueni County Governor H.E Mutula Kilonzo Jr and Deputy County Commissioner Mr. Joel Mwangala.
The committee’s focus was investigating issues surrounding the delayed Vision 2030 Thwake Dam project.
Thwake Dam, an 87% completed multi-purpose project, targets enhancing water storage for domestic, irrigation, livestock, and hydropower use in the semi-arid counties of Kitui and Makueni. However, recent disputes between the main contractor and subcontractor raised concerns, as well as pollution at the dam’s inlet from Athi River, turning it into a potential sewer.
Hon. Bowen queried about the community’s dependence on Athi River water, questioning the progress of upstream cleaning and the Athi River restoration program that is supposed to clean and improve the quality of the water.
Hon. Paul Nzengu expressed doubts about the dam’s success after five years, citing industrial waste as a major source of Athi River pollution. Yet nothing is being done to the pollutants other than a meagre fine that they pay and continue polluting.
Governor Mutula emphasized the need for water reticulation and improved access to Thwake from both Kitui and Makueni sides. Despite challenges, he reiterated CS Wahome’s words on urging an increase in the workforce to meet the February 2024 deadline whilst stressing the importance of Athi River’s water quality.
Issues such as material theft and challenges in NEMA’s regulation of blasts were conveyed.
Governor Mutula urged the committee to advocate for local labour in the Thwake project and emphasized the need for unimplemented CSR projects to be implemented.
Hon. Bowen referred to the President’s concern about stalled projects, assuring collaborative support but emphasizing the importance of cohesive efforts. He urged the State Department of Irrigation to focus on irrigating land during the ongoing dam construction.
Governor Mutula called for a water policing unit, scrutinizing NEMA’s effectiveness. He further highlighted TanaAthi’s capacity and water governance issues, leading to project reallocations.
The Committee then proceeded to Thwake Dam for its fact-finding mission. Members present included; Hon. Marwa Maisori, Hon. Amina Mnyazi, Hon. Stanley Muthama, Hon. George Gachagua, and Hon. Paul Nzengu.