President Uhuru Kenyatta chats with Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru during the launching of construction of the Thiba Dam at Rukenya area in Kirinyaga county

A multi-billion rice project in Kirinyaga has hit a hitch after more than 200 residents of Rukenya refused to pave way for the Sh20 billion dam demanding to be paid Sh2.3 billion.

The 249 residents whose land was acquired by the government say they have not been adequately compensated for their 560 acres of land . The government has only paid Sh1.9 billion for the land and the farmers fear that the balance might never be paid.

On March 31, 2017 a Lands Court in Kerugoya ordered the government to settle the full compensation for the land.

The farmers have now returned to Court seeking an injunction against the government’s bid to remove them. Their lawyer Wambugu Kariuki told Justice Patrick Kiage, Fatuma Sichalle and Sankale Kantai that the National lands Commission and the National Irrigation Board had been directed to settle the compensation first before the project commenced.

The lawyer asked:  “At what stage will they be compensated considering that their land was acquired and the construction started?”

The dam was commissioned by President Uhuru Kenyatta in November last year and one of the Jubilee government flagship projects.

The court has asked the lawyer to serve NLC and NIB and pick hearing dates.

The dam will irrigate expansive rice fields in Kirinyaga County is to help double rice production from the current 80,000 to 160,000 tonnes a year.

The dam will see the doubling of production seasons of rice and horticultural crops, as well as improving the production of rice and other crops by expanding the total cultivated area from 19,400 acres to about 41,810 acres in the project area.

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