Residents eject Chinese contractor from site over compensation
A fresh standoff has emerged at the Sh 24 billion Karimenu II dam water project in Gatundu North; Kiambu County after the Chinese contractor was ejected out of the site over unsettled compensation.
The multi-billion project is now hanging in the balance after the angry residents who claim are yet to receive compensation for their land and other damages threatened to keep guard of their property until they are fully paid.
According to the disgruntled locals who are affected in phase two of the project, the Chinese contractor intruded their land over the weekend and started excavation works over the weekend before they ganged up and expelled them.
Led by Monica Wanjiru, the residents said they received two-week ultimatum to clear their land before the contractor commences the main construction works.
They said that they don’t have any money to facilitate their relocation and the government failed in their earlier agreement of paying them on time.
Armed with pangas, the residents said they will continue to guard their property and will not allow intrusion on their land until the government finalizes the payments.
“We will not allow them to excavate our land even for a minute unless they pay us in full. We should be used as Kenyans. They have been taking us in circles and we have developed fatigue. They should kill us if they want to enjoy our property,” said Wanjiru.
Her sentiments were echoed by Augustine Mungai whose land was also excavated to pave way for the main construction activities.
This is the second time the government has been embroiled in a payment tussle with the land owners.
In the first phase of the project, residents held demonstrations and on several occasions kicked the Chinese contractor out of their land further derailing the project that hoped to boost water supply to Juja, Thika, Ruiru and parts of Nairobi County.
The residents are now calling on the National Land Commission (NLC) which has been executing the compensation process and Athi Water Services that is implementing the project to intervene and solve the prevailing tussle to allow smooth construction works.
Efforts to seek a comment from the two mentioned government entities were futile. However, an officer from Athi Water Services who sought anonymity blamed NLC for delaying the payments saying they had finalized all the documentation.
The project is being funded by the government and the China Exim Bank and is being implemented through a joint venture between International Holding Corporation (AVIC) and Shanghai Municipal Engineering Design Institute.
Completion time of the project that is being built on a 600-acre plot is expected to delay due to the sustained tussles between the government and the land owners.
nitially, the construction was expected to end in December 2020 after 36 months of work according to the schedule in a contract that was signed in May 2017.