Senate grills PS over Galana Kulalu project

Written By: Kevin Wachira
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The ambitious food security project hosted by Kilifi and Tana River counties was to be a model farm to ensure high yields in maize-producing areas.
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The Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Irrigation, Prof Fred Sigor was Tuesday morning at pains to explain to Senators what informed the scaling down of Galana Kulalu irrigation project.

The project was scaled down from Ksh14.5billion to 7billion.

Sigor, who appeared before the Senate committee on agriculture said the revision was done after consultation at cabinet level.

Senators had questioned the legality of revising of a contract downwards.

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At the same time, a representative of the contracted company Green Arava from Israel told the committee there had been Political interference aimed at killing the project.

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The Israeli firm, the lead contractor further told the committee that the students who were trained in Israel were not deployed in the farm because of budget cuts.

The contractor is lamenting frustrations in payments including shipment of machinery.

The company further accused the National Irrigation Board (NIB) of continued delay. It blamed the government for failure to honour payment agreements.

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It claimed the last payment was done for the 2016 works. The implementation of Galana Kulalu irrigation project according to Arava Company was supposed to take 30 months.

Green Arava was tasked with setting up an irrigation system, pumping stations and a logistics centre that included offices, a garage and a maize mill. Under the contract, the company was to put the model farm to use for one year before handing it over to NIB.

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The project was originally scheduled to have moved into its second phase, which involved planting at least 200,000 acres of maize with estimated earnings of about Ksh24 billion a year following the success of the model farm. This output would have solved the country’s maize shortage crisis.

However, the project is now 18 months behind schedule. Arava claimed the delay had resulted in the company being coerced to undertake a substandard project.

Ksh9B was paid towards the implementation of the project.

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