Dam to be filled in the next 20 days

The National Irrigation Authority (NIA) Director General Gitonga Mugambi briefing the media after officially closed Thiba river to fill up the Thiba mega Dam in Kirinyaga County yesterday

The Thiba mega dam in Kirinyaga County  will be filled with water within the next 20 days , after the  total closure of the area river yesterday .

The Sh 20 billion project has been going on for the last four years with the Strabag being the main contractor and the National Irrigation Authority NIA)as the Client.

According to the NIA’s Director General Gitonga Mugambi the project has been completed as scheduled despite the many challenges that emerged along the way .

Heavy construction equipment blocking the Thiba river  to enable the filling up of the Thiba mega Dam upon it's completion yesterday .

“Am delighted that I have been there at the very planning stage, construction and now completion of this mega project which will now be a game changer in the way rice  farming has been undertaken at the Mwea Irrigation scheme, “the Director said.

The 40 meter tall and I kilometer long dam will be sourcing its water from upstream   for storage at the huge reservoir from the Thiba river hence  the name Thiba dam .

The construction of the flag ship project was  launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta in March 2018 with a completion time line  of 45 months  though  no one anticipated  the outbreak of the Covid 19 pandemic .

Briefing the media after closing the entire Thiba river at the site to allow the  15 million cubic liter  dam  said farmers will from this year  start having two planting seasons per year courtesy of the readily available  irrigation water.

Water begins to fill up the completed Thiba dam in Kirinyaga County after the feeder Thiba river was officially closed by heavy machinery yesterday . The  dam is expected to be full within the next 20 days or so.

The Director added that an expansion program for the Mwea Irrigation scheme where more farmers will start engaging in  rice  production was underway.

“Once the expansion works are completed in the  course f the year we will increase the hectares under rice farming to 30,000  up from the current 20,000  and increase production two fold  which will translate to double harvest .” he said.

Mugambi further stated that the current 180,000 metric tons  farmers in Mwea  produce per year will be doubled arising from the  completion of the dam.

He  also said currently the country only produces about 17 per cent of the national requirement(949,000metric tons a year) hence  the huge deficit which must be imported to meet the consumption demand.

The spectacular Thiba dam whose filling with water commenced late yesterday . It will take about 20 days to fill up the reservoir before  Mwea rice farmers could start using the water to irrigate their  shambas

Other than the dam, new high rice yielding varieties have been developed to compliment what the farmers have been harvesting.

Through the KARLO, verities like Kwamboka which are not only high yielding but early maturing have been introduced into the scheme, while the Jubilee Administration has made it mandatory that all government institutions must purchase their rice requirements from the local farmers.

The Mwea Irrigation Scheme Manager Innocent Ariemba said farmers will no longer scramble for water since  they have since times immemorial depended on irrigation water straight from the river without a reservoir .

“The completion and flooding of Thiba dam now ultimately brings to an end the hostility that has prevailed for a long time as farmers scramble for the scarce natural resource, “he said at the site.

The official blocking of Thiba river by the NIB Director General Gitonga Mugambi yesterday following the completion of the project

The area Water Users Association Chairman Morris Mutugi was upbeat over the completion of the dam and assured farmers that  rationing of irrigation water will now be a thing of the past.

The expansion area is within Kandongu section of Mwea where farmers will now be able to increase their produce and earn more from the rice crop  due to the envisaged double cropping.

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