Fulugani residents in Kinango, Kwale County have vowed to ground all construction works at the Sh20 billion Mwache Multipurpose Dam project site.
The angered residents barricaded the road leading to the entrance of the project site demanding for their share of job opportunities as promised by the government.
The construction of the dam whose contract was signed in 2018 was set to begin on February 15, 2022 and will take a period of seven years.
The project delayed for several years as the constructor Syno Hydro, Chinese state-owned hydropower engineering and Construction Company awaited the government to finalise the land compensation exercise.
Residents were complaining that the compensation package of between Sh250,000 to Sh300,000 per acre was too low.
Approximately 12,000 people will be displaced by the project which requires 250,000 hectares of land.
The project is funded by World Bank through the Kenya Water Security Programme.
According to the residents, a stakeholders meeting including local and county administration, Coast water and the residents took place where it was agreed they were going to be given first priority.
A committee was set up to represent the people of Fulugani, Mwashanga, Mwache and Nunguni villages to discuss the distribution of the job opportunities available.
But the residents claimed that no word came back only for them to see excavators and other equipment coming on site two weeks ago.
“No work will go on until we are involved, a bigger percentage of the project is in Fulugani, ” said community leaders Mwambire Haranga.
He added that they were not against the project but were only demanding their fair share of the job opportunities as earlier promised.
“We will not allow a driver or fundi from outside to come in here, we have people with the education and skills needed to execute the work,” he said
His sentiments were echoed by Njala Nyiro who questioned why the interviews for drivers and machine operators were conducted in Kilifi yet the project is in Kwale.
“We want interviews to be conducted here in Kwale and not Kilifi, furthermore how do you expect a fresh graduate to have five years’ experience?” she asked.
The acting CEO Coast Water Works Development Agency, Martin Tsuma accused local leaders of frustrating the matter.
He however, admitted that locals should be prioritised.
Once completed, the flagship project under the Vision 2030 is expected to eradicate the perennial water shortage in Kwale, Mombasa, and Kilifi counties.
The 87.5 meter-tall concrete gravity dyke will be able to hold 118 million cubic meters of water.
About 2,600 hectares of land will also be put under irrigation.