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Sh29 billion Itare dam probe could haunt 3CSs, 3PSs

(Photo credit: Amos Kerich)

DCI detectives have trained their eyes on at least three Cabinet Secretaries and three Principal Secretaries as they intensify probe into the Sh29 billion Itare Dam scandal.

The top officials are among the people the investigators have lined up for grilling as they seek to unearth the faces behind the scam.

Others are senior officials in the ministries of Water and Environment.

Sources have revealed the CSs and PSs will be questioned starting this month in what could spell doom for them in the wake of the government’s escalated purge on graft.

They are Devolution CS Eugene Wamalwa and his suspended Treasury counterpart Henry Rotich. Former Environment CS Judy Wakhungu is also said to be on the detectives’ radar.

Already, Water CS Simon Chelugui has had his date with the detectives. The CS was questioned for more than six hours on December 6 at the DCI headquarters on Kiambu Road.

Suspended Treasury PS Kamau Thugge, Environment PS Fred Segor and their counterpart in charge of Water docket Joseph Irungu are also said to be in the list of those set for questioning.

If found culpable and charged in a court of law, the CSs and PSs will be relieved of their duties in the same manner Rotich and Thugge were sent packing soon after they were charged with corruption in the Arror and Kimwarer Dam scandals.

Late last month, the investigators queried nine former board members of the Rift Valley Water Works Agency – the implementing agency – for more than four hours.

They included Lydia Ntimama, daughter of the late Cabinet Minister William Ole Ntimama, Christine Ndoigo, Chesaina Bartonjo, David Kinuthia, Julius Lamaoni, Nemuel Machuki, Ewoi Lochom and Samwel Kaaleng.

The individuals served in the board between 2012 and 2015 when the project was conceived before it started in 2016.

The Star established that ex-board members adversely mentioned the CSs and PSs during the grilling, prompting the detective to expand the scope of the probe.

The dam, a flagship project of the Jubilee administration, stalled at just 30 per cent completion after its contractor – Italian firm CMC di Ravenna – went under.

This is despite the government having paid more than Sh22 billion for the project. CMC di Ravenna has applied for bankruptcy in an Italian court, leaving the project in limbo.

There are Sh4.3 billion advance payments made to the contractor, Sh5.7 billion for insurance, Sh11 billion for work done and commitment fee amounting to Sh9 billion.

The dam was envisioned to supply about 100,000 cubic metres of water per day to the more than 800,000 residents of Kuresoi in Nakuru County.

It started in 2016 and was supposed to be completed next year.

Wakhungu, who was in charge of the Environment Ministry when the project was conceptualised, is said to have allowed the board to continue with the multi-billion project despite lacking quorum.

Wamalwa, who succeed Wakhungu, overlooked the anomalies when he took over the docket, according to the detectives. Rotich and Thugge are sought for overseeing the payments.

CMC di Ravenna is also the firm at the centre of the multi-billion Kimwarer and Arror projects that sunk Rotich and his PS Kamau Thugge.

The two and other officials were charged with several counts of corruption and abuse office after they made advance payment to the bankrupt company.

This article was originally published on The Star.


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