Residents of Kitui and Makueni counties want the four components of the Sh62.9 billion Thwake multi-purpose dam re-arranged to guarantee food security in the region.
The dam – a Vision 2030 flagship project is planned for implementation in four main phases that include construction of a 77 metre high dam, hydro power generation, 34,600 cubic meters of water supply and a final phase of irrigating 40,000 hectares in the two counties.
It is designed to supply piped water for domestic use, serve the Konza techno city and adjacent towns, irrigate farms downstream in the two counties as well as generate 23 megawatts of hydro power.
However, local residents want the hydro power generation component which will see installation of three turbine generator sets deferred until the water supply and irrigation components are achieved.
According to Dr Daniel Kisangau, the secretary of Thwake land owners committee, Ukambani region desperately needs water for domestic and irrigation purposes and that they should be the first beneficiaries of the project.
Dr Kisangau, who is the Director of South Eastern Kenya University’s Wote Campus urged Ministry of Water engineers to reschedule the project implementation plan to deliver the irrigation component first.
He says the Seven Forks Hydro-power Dams along River Tana, which cuts across Ukambani, were abandoned before the irrigation phase was done but nothing has been revived three decades later.
“Our stand as a community remains that food and water are more basic than electric power. So after the dam is constructed, let us first irrigate the 40,000 hectares downstream before generating power for national grid” the don told the Nation yesterday.
The power generation component is the second phase of the project that is expected to take three years to construct but residents fear that the final irrigation phase may be abandoned by government once water and power are delivered.