A tussle between Elgeyo Marakwet County and Kerio Valley Development Authority (KVDA) is threatening to delay implementation of a Sh63 billion hydro-electric generation and irrigation project.
Whereas the devolved unit accuses the authority of forcible acquisition of land for the Arror project, the latter maintains that families to be displaced are willing to swap land and accept money for any developments on the same.
According to KVDA managing director David Kimosop, the Arror multi-purpose project will cost Sh35 billion while Kimwarer project is estimated to cost Sh28 billion.
Both projects are in Kerio Valley and are meant to produce electricity and boost irrigated farming.
Mr Kimosop said over 800 families will be displaced to pave way for the initiative, which will cover 4,000 acres.
“The displaced families are expected to receive about Sh6 billion as compensation for properties lost, including land,” said Mr Kimosop, adding that some are still against the displacement.
“Most of the families have proposed swapping land as part of the compensation and measures have been put in place to settle them elsewhere under mutual agreement in the next six months,” said Mr Kimosop.
But Elgeyo Marakwet Governor Alex Tolgos, while taking issue with the project, claims that KVDA has not engaged local leaders and other stakeholders.
He alleges that the authority is out to use force and security agencies to acquire land for the project, but these claims were dismissed by Mr Kimosop.
“We will talk to our people. They are optimistic that they will surrender land willingly without being forced,” said the Governor.
According to Mr Kimosop, only 25 out of about 800 families are opposed to the project. He added that talks were ongoing to convince them to surrender their land.
KVDA has received funds from the Italian Government and implementation of the two projects is at an advanced stage.
“The implementers have done feasibility studies and opened offices at KVDA. Construction is expected to commence early next month,” said Mr Kimosop.
He said Arror — a joint venture between CMC di Ravena and Itenera of Italy — could generate 60 megawatts of electricity.
“More than 10,000 acres of land will be placed under irrigation and provide water for domestic use to over 100,000 households,” said Mr Kimosop, adding that 50km of roads will be constructed and 185 square kilometres of land will be under water catchment conservation.
Mr Kimosop said over 800 families would be displaced.
At the weekend, KVDA management and financiers held a meeting with 550 affected families.
Last year, two government agencies — KVDA and Lake Victoria North Water Services Board — were at loggerheads over implementation of the two projects, forcing the national government to intervene.
“The national government has prioritised this project since it will significantly improve the economy of Elgeyo-Marakwet County,” said Mr Eugene Wamalwa, Cabinet Secretary, Water and Irrigation, when he toured Kerio Valley.
It later emerged that KVDA and the National Irrigation Board (NIB) got the go-ahead to implement the project.
The planned Arror hydro-electricity and irrigation project will be the second in Kerio Valley after Turkwel hydro-power plant.