Sh 5.9 billion at stake after Galana Kulalu project collapses

A man working at the Galana-Kulalu irrigation scheme in Kilifi and Tana river counties./FILE

Sh. 5.9 billion so  far spent on the Galana-Kulalu irrigation project in Kiliso farTana River counties is at stake.

This is after the project collapsed following the withdrawal Green Arava, the Israeli firm contracted to construct the project.

This follows the souring of relations between the company and the National Irrigation Board, the agency implementing the project on behalf of the ministry of water and irrigation.

According to the Saturday nation which first broke the story as the project is stalling, both parties have thrown accusing fingers at each other.

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The contractor has accused the board of failing to honor payments while the board has accused the contractor of among many things going on a go slow.

The project commenced in September 2015 with the government planning to irrigate 1,000,000 acres of arable land located in Kilifi and Tana River counties.

The first phase of the project involved the construction of a model farm on 10,000 acres of the land with the contractor being tasked with construction of an irrigation system, pumping stations and a maize mill.

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The project was eyeing a completion date of March 2017 however the contractor who was supposed to hand over the model farm to the irrigation board after an year requested a completion date of January 2018.

The estimated projected revenue of the project was sh 1.2 billion of maize sales however the wrangles between the contractor and the irrigation board have seen it earn only a revenue of sh 237.7 million.

While the Green Arava company has so far refused comment on the matter, the National Irrigation Board has accused the firm of monkey business.

“The contractor claims that we have refused to pay him. But out of the Sh7.2 billion contract, we have already given out Sh5.9 billion. The balance in the contract is Sh1.2 billion whereas the value of pending works not done is Sh989 million. We needed the contractor to make progress in the works done but he has refused. Basically, he doesn’t deserve to get paid.The contractor wants to be paid for equipment that is still in Israel. We even asked for a bill of lading to show that he has already shipped the equipment but he has failed to provide one. We don’t know if he has purchased the equipment or even made arrangements for shipment,” Charles Muasya, the head of design and planning of irrigation projects at the National Irrigation Board,  was quoted by the Saturday nation.

Early last year, several leaders from Kilifi county opposed the privatization of the project accusing the government of attempting to grab the project.