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Kenya’s Kiambu county governor backs controversial dam despite residents’ opposition? No, graphic fake

IN SHORT: Tempers have flared in the populous Kenyan county of Kiambu over the proposed construction of a dam. But a national TV station did not report that the county governor had dismissed these concerns.

A graphic circulating on Facebook in January 2023 attributes an inflammatory quote to Kimani Wamatangi, the governor of Kenya’s Kiambu county.

The quote has the governor saying county residents’ opinions about the acquisition of land for a dam do not matter.

“The recent behaviour from a section of Gatundu north people does not represent the view of Gatundu north constituency, as county government of Kiambu, we welcome the proposal of the dam construction whether they like it or not,” the quote reads

“People should know we have a policy of forceful acquisition and we can implement it anytime.”

The graphic shows a photo of Wamatangi and uses the branding of KTN News, a private TV station with nationwide reach.

Kiambu is one of Kenya’s 47 counties, lying just north of the capital of Nairobi. According to the most recent census, it had 2.4 million people in 2019. Only Nairobi county had more, with 4.4 million people.

People in the Gatundu North constituency, one of 12 in the county, are opposed to the construction of the Ndarugo II dam. It is predicted that the dam would benefit 1.5 million people across three counties once it’s completed. It comes with an estimated price tag of KSh13 billion (about US$104 million.)  

The protest has been led by Elijah Njoroge, the Gatundu North MP. People who own land at the proposed dam site have vowed to challenge the project’s acquisition of their property, for reasons ranging from compensation to viability.

The residents are calling for alternative forms of development as the area already has a dam, known as Kariminu, built a few years ago. This dam also ran into opposition and continues to attract the displeasure of residents. 

Njoroge said the constituency has for years had bad roads and few electricity connections. He has urged the government to consider constructing the new dam inside the expansive Kieni forest instead. 

He argues this would save taxpayer funds as there would be no need for compensation.

But did KTN News report that Wamatangi said he would support the national government forcefully taking land for the dam, and that he dismissed the concerns of his residents?


Quote nowhere to be found

Africa Check could not find the controversial quote on any of the county government platforms, or in any other reporting by the media.

And on 15 January, KTN News posted the graphic on its official Facebook page – stamped “FAKE”.

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