One of the largest private dams in Kwale County will be licensed after a sugar milling company owning it finally heeded a government order to meet all regulatory requirements.
Kwale International Sugar Company Limited (KISCOL) had ran into trouble with the Water Resources Management Authority (WARMA) for flouting earth dam construction guidelines.
The authority issued a one-week notice to the firm to comply or face prosecution, after inspecting the dam on July 20.
WARMA’s Surface Water Manager, Mr. Ahmed Mbarak who led the inspection team, said the dam on the sprawling sugar plantation in Ramisi area, Msamweni Sub-county, was built illegally since it has no permit from the authority.
The company had also been ordered to drain the dam, currently holding 2.3million cubic litres of water, amidst claims it was structurally unsound and a danger to local residents as it has been leaking.
“The company went ahead to build the dam without a permit and even after applying for one, it is yet to be issued because there are conditions it has not met,” Mbarak, earlier said.
But on Sunday, the authority said the company had complied with the regulatory requirements and will be issued with a permit.
Mbarak said in a telephone interview that the company had also paid water user charges and that it had agreed to meet all the permit issuance conditions by July 30.
“We agreed they will submit additional documents by Monday to finally be eligible for the permit,” he said.
“We have amicably resolved the matter and have no problem with the company since it has complied with our conditions,” the official added.
The company has seven dams plus 30 boreholes with a combined capacity of 20million cubic litres of water, 80 percent being used for irrigation while the surplus goes into sugar milling and processing operations.
However, the company Community Relations Manager Mr. Mathias Mutua had previously denied any wrongdoing saying their engineers had sanctioned the dam.
Mutua said they had relocated 45 families as a precautionary measure. “Should the dam burst, the waters will flow into empty fields and the ocean,” he said during an earlier inspection of the reservoirs by the Msambweni Sub-county Disaster Management Committee.
In June, the government formed a task force to inspect dams and establish whether all regulatory requirements were met.
The action followed the loss of 47 lives after the collapse of Solai Dam in Nakuru County on May 10 where 48 people died and hundreds of people were also left homeless.
The sugar miller has been attracting negative press lately with its operations paralyzed following the closure of its go-downs in a government probe over contraband sugar.