Leaders in Tharaka Nithi County have rejected the national government’s offer of compensation to locals affected by the construction of the proposed Sh 150 billion High Grand Falls in Tharaka constituency.
Speaking at a public Barraza at the proposed site on Saturday, the deputy governor Dr. Mati Murithi termed the government’s offer to build a two-bedroom house for each of the people displaced by the mega project as an insult.
The leaders who included aspirants for various posts in the August general elections threatened to seek legal intervention to halt the project until the government offers a reasonable compensation to those who will be displaced.
According to Chief Executive Officer of the Tana and Athi Rivers Development Authority (TARDA) Mr. Steven Githaiga who visited the site last week, the construction of the dam is set to start at Kibuka falls on River Tana separating Tharaka Nithi, Embu and Kitui counties.
Mr Githaiga said the 165 square kilometre dam is expected to produce more than 700 megawatt of hydro electric energy from the over 5.6 billion cubic metres of water that will be used to irrigate over 250,000 acres of land.
He said the contractor has set aside Sh.6 billion for resettling people who will be displaced in the three counties.
But Dr. Mati said those displaced by the project should be given monetary compensation and Sh.2.5 million each acre of land that will be taken.
“We will block the construction of this mega dam if the government will not reasonably compensate the locals to be affected,” said Dr Mati.
A senate hopeful Mr. Kiambi Kiriiro Matanka accused the national government of not involving the residents and local leaders in the planning of the project as required by the constitution.
“Families affected by projects in other parts of the country such as Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) are being paid well and we expect the same reciprocation,” said Mr. Matanka.
The leaders challenged Tharaka MP Mburi Muiru, who is the chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Land to compel the government to indicate where it intends to resettle those to be displaced.
Contacted, Mr Muiru said not one will vacate their land before they are compensated well.
“I want to assure my people that nobody will be displaced from their land before reasonable compensation is made,” said Muiru.