Only 843 out of the known 4,140 dams and pans in the country are regulated by the Water Resources Authority (WRA), formerly Water Resources Management Authority (WARMA).
This means that a total of 3,297 dams spread across Kenya have not been inspected for safety, including the killer Solai dam that claimed 47 lives in Nakuru. This information was shared by Water and Sanitation principal secretary Joseph Irungu who spoke to the National Assembly’s committee on environment.
“Only 843 are regulated by WARMA but water pans are spread across the country and are not regulated,” Mr Irungu said
However, the ministry’s inventory is not up to date with the current number of dams in the country. Irungu said that the ministry is currently updating its inventory of all dams and pans to guide their classification in terms of location, size, usage and ownership.
On the killer Solai dam, he said WRA only inspected a weir in 2014 that the Patel Farm owners converted into a dam without regulatory approvals.
WRA chief executive officer Mohamed Shuriye said that the facility was due for a further review in December 2018.
“We usually inspect dams every five years, but we review them when an operator applies to make modifications,” Mr Shuriye said.
Mr Irungu could also not explain why the ministry has not inspected all the dams in the country.
Mr Irungu said in reviewing the status of dams, Water secretary Simon Chelugui had appointed a national task force to inquire, investigate, asses operations, safety and general status of dams in Kenya.
The task force is expected to submit a report by August 6, 2018 following its appointment on June 6.
The task force comprises officers from Water ministry, Ministry of Interior, Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company, Water Services Regulatory Board, WRA, county governments of Nairobi, Nakuru, and Muranga, University of Nairobi, KenGen, Association of Consulting Engineers of Kenya, community representatives, Meteorological Department, Kenya Forest Service, Rift Valley Water Services Board and Athi Water Services Board.
“When the task force report is ready, we will report its findings on the management of dams,” the PS said.
Mr Irungu refused to disclose steps that have been taken to deal with the negligence that occasioned the Solai dam tragedy insisting the matter is in court and three of his officers have been charged.
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