Rice farmers and residents of Bunyala area of Budalang’i Constituency are demanding compensation following the commissioning of the Sh5.3 billion Lower Nzoia irrigation project by Deputy president William Ruto in June this year.
They warned it was improper for the DP to launch the project at its infancy even before the affected were compensated, threatening to hold a demonstration.
Speaking to journalists in Budalang’i on Friday, Nasiongo and Igigo residents said that they are unhappy with the ongoing rehabilitation of the dykes stating that they are sub-standard.
“The relevant authorities should follow up for us to find a lasting solution, how can the government initiate a project before compensating those affected, there was a quotation made before this project started, where is the money?” They wondered.
The Sh10 billion project, jointly funded by the government and the World Bank, runs 34-kilometres along the Nzoia River in an area once ravaged by incessant floods that displaced residents annually.Ten kilometers out of the 34 kilometers of the dykes are complete since the launch.
Water and Sanitation Principal Secretary Joseph Irungu last week told the National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee there was no formal communication that Ruto was to launch the project. Mr Irungu said they were still addressing compensation delays for affected families in Busia and Siaya Counties.
The Opiyo Wandayi-led team also heard that the National Land Commission (NLC) and National Irrigation Board (NIB) were not involved in the launch.NIB is the implementing agency while NLC is involved in land acquisition for the project that is meant to end perennial flooding as well as help to increase food production.
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“There was no contact between the DP’s office and my office. Even my project engineer was not there. Compensation is a very sensitive matter, which we must handle well,” said Irungu.
Mr Wandayi said it was unclear why Ruto purported to launch the project without the approval of the implementing agencies.“It is perplexing that there was a public pronouncement by the DP when there was no communication between his office and the Water and Irrigation Ministry, National Irrigation Board and National Land Commission.