Tea farmers worried over the stalled Sh950 million mini hydro power plants

Farmers have queried why a Sh 950 million mini hydro project meant to cut down the cost of electricity in their six tea factories has not been completed three years after it started.

The project which was meant to supply electricity to Thumaita, Kimunye, Kangaita, Mununga, Ndimaini and Ragati tea factories was scheduled to have been completed within a year upon commencement, according to Zone Five Director Peter Mwai.

Mwai however said the multimillion projects stalled when it was 60 per cent complete after some farm owners where the canals were to pass through went to court seeking for more compensation.

“As a result of many court battles which came about after the commencement of the construction works, the project stalled since some of the farmers demanded more compensation than we had bargained and agreed upon,” he said.

Yesterday, a section of the farmers wondered why the officials were silent on the matter yet each of them (farmers) had contributed funds towards the project while the electricity bills meant to be brought down were sky rocketing.

“We had been promised that the project would be completed within a year upon commencement but since 2016 to date we are still waiting, “said Gachoki Njoka, a tea farmer from the area.

According to Mwai, the project will be ready for commissioning this December and the farmers have nothing to worry about since the land owners who had laid legal road blocks had agreed to have the dispute resolved out of court.

Mwai said the project was 85 per cent complete with the power house installed with the required equipment while just a short canal length was remaining to be built.

“This project when complete will produce 1.8 megawatts, while the proposed one at Kiringa River will produce 1.5 megawatts and for Kagochi (2 megawatts),” the official said.

Farmers will have their earnings increased once the project is completed, while the factories will be run by electric power generated at the plant.

Earnings from tea are normally low due to high electricity bills with the Kenya Power company being the sole electricity supplier to the tea factories

KNA by Irungu Mwangi