Residents of Gatundu North are demanding compensation or the removal of water from their farms, which have been submerged by the waters of Kariminu II Dam. The residents from Iruri, Kiriko, and Gituamba villages have expressed their grievances, stating that the dam has caused immense hardship since the impoundment of water began in May of the previous year.
Despite property valuations being conducted in February, affected villagers claim they have received no communication regarding their compensation from the relevant authorities. Frustrated by the situation, residents are calling on the government to either provide payment or drain the water and establish a fence around the dam to protect their farms.
The dam’s existence has resulted in impoverishment for the residents, as they are unable to cultivate their lands and struggle to provide food for their families. Moreover, fears of impending tragedy loom, with cracks developing in their homes and concerns of potential landslides. The dam’s water has even reached pit latrines, leading to worries about a health crisis in the villages.
Despite efforts to seek assistance from relevant authorities such as the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) and Athi Water Works Development Authority (AWWDA), the residents claim their pleas have fallen on deaf ears. They describe the situation as a ticking time bomb that requires immediate attention.
Safety concerns for their children are also highlighted, as the unfenced dam poses a risk of accidental drowning. Additionally, the locals raise security issues, asserting that the dam has become a dumping site for criminals, as six bodies have been retrieved from the waters since its opening.
The dam, initially seen as a solution to water scarcity in homes, has only brought suffering to the villagers, plagued by mosquitoes and severe cold. Frustrated with the ongoing situation, residents have given the government, Ministry of Water, AWWDA, and the National Lands Commission (NLC) a seven-day ultimatum to compensate them or drain the water from the affected villages.
In the event of non-compliance, the residents plan to seek legal action, pursuing court orders to compel the government to compensate them or vacate their farms. Paul Mwangi, the secretary of the project’s affected persons’ committee, expresses their determination to seek legal redress, highlighting the suffering and losses experienced by the locals due to the dam.