The stalled works at the Thiba mega dam will resume in three weeks’ time once an outstanding arrears of 1.5 billion shillings is paid to the contractor, the government has stated.
The unpaid dues to Strabag Construction Company arose from two completion works certificates which forced the contractor to send on forced leave some 300 employees.
Water and Irrigation Principal Secretary Joseph Irungu now say the government is making arrangements to have the dues paid out within the next three weeks.
Irungu during a visit to the dam site situated at Karia village in Kirinyaga East Sub-County recently however failed to explain why the payments were being delayed yet the project had been funded by the Japanese government.
“This contractor is moving very fast at 30 per cent and the payments got delayed somehow but within the next two to three weeks, we will have paid him all the outstanding Sh 1.5 billion to enable him resume operations,” Irungu said.
The official further added that the project had not stalled but only slowed down due to the delayed payments yet on the ground there were no any activities with bush having grown all over.
Accompanied by the National Irrigation Board (NIB) Chairman Joshua Toro and other senior board employees, Irungu however assured Mwea rice farmers who are the beneficiaries of the Sh 19 billion project that there was no cause for alarm.
“This project will certainly be completed on the stipulated time (2021), after which rice farmers will be able to grow two rice crops per year through irrigation instead of the current single one which is rainfall dependent,” he said.
Also present was Gichugu MP Gichimu Githinji and his Mwea counterpart Kabinga Wachira who urged the official to ensure all the challenges facing the dam were addressed as a matter of urgency.
Wachira however said he was grateful to the government for setting aside Sh 200 million stabilization fund for the rice farmers whose benefits they will start reaping from the just began harvesting season.
He said farmers will be receiving partial payments of their crop harvested to cushion them from brokers who are currently buying the crop at only Sh 50 per kilogram to keep stock and later sell at a higher profit margin.
Payment certificates are prepared by the project consultant on site on the basis of the percentage of the completed works and the stage of the construction for a given period of time.
The certified certificate is then presented for payment to the Treasury through the NIB who is the client for Strabag Construction Company.