Rift residents stand in the way of county palatial residences

The stalled multi-million shilling Elgeyo Marakwet governors’ residence at Kamariny Stadium. [Kelvin Tunui, Standard]
In the South Rift, several counties have shelved plans to build houses for governors, deputy governors and county assembly speakers.

The Nakuru government said building a house for the governor was not a priority. The county boss, Lee Kinyanjui, has been living in his own house since he took office last year.

County Assembly Budget and Appropriations Committee chairman Moses Ndung’u said the county executive decided to allocate Sh30 million to first build a house for the deputy governor because he was still renting.

The county assembly also approved Sh35 million to build the speaker’s residence.

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In Nyandarua, the county has set aside Sh30 million to build a house for the governor in Ol Kalou town despite protests by residents. The county is also looking for land to build a house for the speaker.

According to Budget and Appropriations Committee chairman Kiiru Gachomba, the House agreed to set the money aside in the budget despite opposition from residents.

“We had to follow the law and set aside these funds to build an official residence for our governor. This will also be used by future governors,” said Mr Gachomba.

In Baringo, new residences for the top officials is not a priority. The governor, deputy governor and speaker live in rented accommodation.

Former Governor Benjamin Cheboi lived in a house belonging to the national government and located within the compound of the Baringo School of Government.

Public uproar

In the 2015-2016 financial year, the county spent Sh9 million to refurbish the house, leading to public uproar.

In this year’s budget, the county has allocated Sh14 million to buy land for the governor’s house while Sh11 million has been allocated for construction of the deputy governor’s residence.

In Kericho, a recent budget stalemate saw the county assembly reject plans by Governor Paul Chepkwony’s administration to spend Sh150 million to buy land and build houses for him and the deputy governor.

“The county has not prioritised the construction of new residences as per the SRC (Salaries and Remuneration Commission) directive. The county, for instance, estimates the project will cost Sh150 million, which we think can be utilised elsewhere,” said Kapsoit MCA Paul Tarimbo.

In Bomet, although the county government has identified five acres on which to build the governor’s house, no funds were allocated in this year’s budget.

In 2013-2014, the Auditor General questioned a decision by the county assembly to rent a house for the speaker at Sh65,000 per month without following procurement laws.

This after the relevant documents in support of the payments, including valuation and lease agreements, were not provided for an audit review.

Further, there was no explanation how the house was identified as no procurement procedures appear to have been recorded.

In West Pokot, construction of the governor’s residence began during former Governor Simon Kachapin’s tenure.

According to the Auditor General, a local construction company was awarded the tender for Sh113 million in April 2015.

However, works stalled following a court case despite the project gobbling up Sh70 million.

The Auditor General’s report showed that the county did not acquire the title of the land on which it intended to build the house because the land in question was the subject of a court case in the High Court in Kitale.

Governor John Lonyangapuo and Deputy Governor Nicholas Atudonyang currently occupy houses belonging to the national government. The houses, which were renovated in 2015, were colonial government servant quarters.

Construction of new houses has stalled following lack of funds after Prof Lonyangapuo suspended 23 projects that were initiated by his predecessor.

Kamariny Stadium

Elgeyo Marakwet Governor Alex Tolgos lives in his own house in Eldoret while Speaker Philemon Sabulei rents.

In 2015, residents got court orders stopping the construction of a Sh50 million house for the governor, claiming it was being built on land reserved for Kamariny Stadium.

By the time the project was stopped, more than Sh6 million had been spent.

The Budget and Appropriations Committee had initially proposed Sh100 million to build the official residences of the governor and speaker but the MCAs re-allocated the funds to development.

But Deputy Speaker Christopher Chemosong said money to build the two mansions would be allocated in the 2019-2020 financial year.

“We agreed to construct residences for the governor and speaker to cut costs on daily movement to Eldoret and back to Iten in the morning where the governor and CEC members live,” said Mr Chemosong.

In Uasin Gishu, the county assembly allocated Sh100 million to build houses for Governor Jackson Mandago and his deputy Daniel Chemno. 

[Steve Mkawale, Patrick Kibet, James Munyeki, Irissheel Shanzu and Fred Kibor]

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