Construction of the Kshs. 20 billion Thiba Dam in Kirinyaga, which will help secure the year-round water supply for the country’s agriculture, is now at 91% complete.
The 40-meter tall and 1 km long dam in Kirinyaga County creates a reservoir that will allow a second harvest every year in Mwea Rice Irrigation scheme and the surrounding cultivable area.
According to the project, Stephen Mutinda the remaining 9% work includes connection to the existing road network as well as facilities for water draw-off and safe floodwater drainage.
Mutinda said the project has been completed as scheduled and is now ready for flooding come the rainy season beginning March this year.
He said a gate valve for the control of the water back to the river is yet to be cleared at the Port of Mombasa.
He said were it not for the low volume of water in the target river, flooding would have commenced and water ready for the farmers by May this year.
According to Mutinda the dam would store the water that will later be released to the farmers to enable them to undertake two crops per year since they will no longer depend on rain-fed agriculture.
He said the project would have been ready even before December last year were it not for the delay in the approval of the master list, which took nine months translating to slow mobilization by the contractor, and in the payment of duties, taxes, and levies.
Mutinda said the inadequate budget allocation by the National treasury at one time led to the suspension of works, which lasted for about three months from 1 October 2019 to 7 January 2020.
The Project manager James Karanja said the dam at completion would hold 15 million cubic meters of water, which will be supplied to the farmers within the Mutithi section where the existing scheme is being expanded by 10,000 acres.
Currently, the Mwea Irrigation scheme has 25,000 acres under rice cultivation but upon expansion will add up to 35,000 acres, which will translate to double production of paddy rice.
He said the income from the crop, which stands at Ksh. 9 billion, will also shoot up to three fold to about Kshs. 20 billion per year and improve the wellbeing of the farmers.
The National Irrigation Authority is overseeing the construction of the Dam with the Consultant being a joint venture of Nippon Koei and Gibb Africa and contractor Straback International GmbH of Germany.
Once the Dam is completed, an additional 10,000 acres will be put under irrigation in Mwea Irrigation Scheme as well as provide sufficient water for double cropping of the entire 35,000 acres of the scheme per year.
The construction of the project started in March 2018