Kenya could soon host one of the largest multipurpose dams in Africa, the High Grand Falls dam. The construction of the proposed dam which is expected to produce up to 700 Megawatts of hydro power is set to begin after the government completed most of the preparations which includes the procurement phase. The project enters the land acquisition stage where project affected persons are relocated to allow for construction. Statistics and Planning Principal Secretary Saitoti Torome said the government had already finalized all procurement processes with the contractor, the China State Construction Engineering Corporation. He stated that he hoped that work would start soon, speaking on 18th February when he and other officials toured one of the project sites in Tharaka accompanied by members of the Parliamentary Committee on project Implementation and Tana and Athi River Development Authority (TARDA) officials.
Africa’s second largest and Kenya’s biggest dam is set to cost KES 150 billion. It will start at Kibuka falls along the river Tana and cover a 165 square kilometre area affecting the three counties of Tharaka Nithi, Embu and Kitui due to its unique location separating these counties. Apart from producing power for the national grid, the areas will also benefit from the over 5.6 billion cubic metres of water which will be used to irrigate over 250,000 acres of land in the surrounding region.
This mega project is expected to take six years during its construction phase, with at least 4,500 households projected to be affected. Tana ,Athi River Development Authority (TARDA) Chief Executive Officer Steven Githaiga said the assigned contractor had set aside KES 6 billion for resettling the thousands of people who will be affected in the three counties. The affected persons will however not get monetary compensation. He said the people will be moved into settlement schemes where everyone will be given a permanent house connected to electricity, piped water and be also get irrigated land for farming. This is besides constructing schools, hospitals and police posts among other social amenities at the settlement scheme.
The new High Grand Falls Dam which is approximately 115m high has multiple objectives which include producing advanced hydroelectricity, maintaining low-water levels, supporting agriculture, irrigation and flood protection. The final dam will be a reinforced cement concrete (RCC) construction completed with earth wings. It will have a gated spillway with a capacity of 15000 m3/s and a fusible dike which rises on a fusible embankment dike and guarantees the integrity of the main dam while it improves the dam security in the face of hydrologic uncertainties.
The High Grand Falls Dam is part of the Lamu Port Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Corridor (Lapsset) projects which is part of Kenya’s Vision 2030.