National Irrigation commission staff to face the music

15May 2019
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
National Irrigation commission staff to face the music

PRIME Minister Kassim Majaliwa yesterday suspended seven directors of the National Irrigation Commission (NIRC) including the acting managing director pending the outcome of a full-scale investigation for suspected irregularities.

PRIME Minister Kassim Majaliwa.

The premier tasked the Controller Auditor General (CAG) to thoroughly investigate the matter “as we want to know who was behind the misappropriation of funds. We want to see all people who were involved in it taken to task.”

 Majaliwa announced the action at a meeting with the commission staff and management held in Dodoma.

 Apart from suspending the directors, the PM said that disciplinary action be taken on 21 staff members for poor performance in different projects the commission executed.

The premier said the government took the decision after discovering that there is poor management in the commission including mismanagement of project funds, corruption and misuse of power, nepotism and dereliction of duty.

Punitive action will be taken against those found to have committed acts of sabotaging irrigation projects in the country, he declared.

Majaliwa said that irrigation in the country is not in an encouraging situation and the government isn’t happy with the performance of the commission despite the fact that more funds have been invested in it.

 Most projects implemented by the commission are in bad shape and NIRC officials have been concentrating on training, seminars and workshops, instead of building and developing irrigation schemes.

The commission has failed to spearhead ten irrigation projects in different areas across the country, making the irrigation sector fail to realize its expected results.

The failed projects include Luiche Irrigation Scheme of about 3,000 hectares, which is on the first stages and there is embezzlement of funds. The project was the beneficiary of a Sh34bn/- grant from Kuwait early last year, and is located in Kigoma region.

 “The acting managing director issued a permit of paying 100.7m/- to engineers based at headquarters, planning officers for going to inspect projects rather than concentrating on building irrigation infrastructures. External auditors queried on the authenticity of those payments and there are no answers on that,”   the premier intoned.

In another development, Majaliwa directed Agriculture Minister Japhet Hasunga to complete the process of getting new board members for the commission and to ensure that the commission completes all irrigation schemes which are under implementation.

 Among other tasks, the minister is also required to review the structure of the commission and make sure that it has irrigation officers at regional and district levels so as to bring services close to farmers.

Earlier, minister Hasunga said that currently there are only ten irrigation schemes which are working out of 2,678 already built or under implementation.

For his part, Minister for Water Prof Makame Mbarawa said that many irrigation projects failed because they were built below standard.

“There was no value for money in many projects,” he said, adding that a project worth 2bn/- end up spending 4bn/-.