Capital FM News, posted by WAMBUI NDONGA on August 10, 2011
NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 10 – Members of Parliament on Wednesday put the
government to task over the controversial construction of the Gibe III
dam by Ethiopia, saying it would negatively impact six Kenyan
communities living around Lake Turkana.
While moving the Motion during the morning session, Emuhaya MP Wilbur
Ottichilo raised the red flag over the ongoing construction saying it
should be stopped until an independent environmental impact assessment
Dr Ottichilo explained that the dam would strain resources in the region
which would worsen an already volatile situation. He noted that 20
Kenyans were killed last week by cattle rustlers from the Merille
community of Ethiopia.
The dam, which will be the largest in Africa, is being constructed on
the Omo River that contributes up to 90 percent of Lake Turkana's waters.
"The dam will reduce the Omo River flow into Lake Turkana causing the
lake's water levels to drop by 10 meters. This will critically alter the
ecosystem affecting over 300,000 people. The lake will also become
saline and undrinkable," he argued.
While seconding the Motion, which was supported by several MPs from
across the political divide, nominated MP Rachael Shebesh accused the
government of ignoring the plight of its people by allowing Ethiopia to
carry on with the project despite the issues raised.
She added that the dam would kill the economic livelihoods of the people
living around the Lake and affect their independence.
"If you are negotiating as a government on behalf of your people the
first people you should consider are those who will be affected by what
you're negotiating about. The government should not negotiate away the
rights of Kenyans," she said.
"This dam will make 300,000 people crawl to their knees!" she moaned.
However Water Minister Charity Ngilu assured the House of the
government's commitment to protecting its people. Ms Ngilu said the
government had already set up a committee to look into the issue before
presenting its report in September.
She added that when the Ethiopian government first undertook to
construct Gibe I with a capacity of 839 million cubic meters on River
Gibe, which is a tributary of River Omo, no questions were raised. She
however observed that the construction of Gibe II, still on River Gibe,
"They went on to do Gibe III and the Kenya government realised there was
going to be trouble. And it is true that if we don't do something, the
only desert lake in the world will be badly affected and could even dry
The United Nations has already condemned this dam saying its
construction should be halted. The Ethiopian government has however
vowed to carry on.
According to Forestry Assistant Minister Josephat Nanok (Turkana South
MP) 41 percent of the dam is being constructed with the aid of the
Chinese government after the World Bank, African Development Bank and
the European Investment Bank pulled out.
"Our only problem is the Chinese government; they created problems in
Sudan and now they want to do the same here. Let our government use the
projects being undertaken by the Chinese in Kenya as leverage to
negotiate on our behalf," he said.
Luka Kigen (Rongai), Peter Baiya (Githunguri), Wavinya Ndeti (Kathiani),
Chachu Ganya (North Horr), Nkoidila ole Lankas (Narok South) and Yusuf
Chanzu (Vihiga) all supported the Motion.
They asked the African Union to intervene and ask Ethiopia to stop the
construction. They also accused the government of casually handling the
According to Mr Nanok, Gibe III will take three to five years to fill
and should be completed by July 2013. The Ethiopian government is also
planning on the construction of Gibe IV with the support of China.
Meanwhile Deputy Speaker Farah Maalim has issued a stern warning to
ministers, their assistants and MPs who habitually skip Parliament when
they are supposed to respond or ask questions. Mr Maalim said he would
apply standing orders against such members with a view of suspending them.
The top officials of the Ministry of Agriculture have also been summoned
by the Agricultural Parliamentary Committee on August 15 to explain why
the industry is making huge losses through the exportation of raw
produce like coffee and cashew nuts.
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