Turkana County waiting for fire engine two years later

Turkana County Governor Josphat Nanok at a past event. Contractor was to deliver the fire truck before end of October 2016. [File, Standard]
The county assembly is investigating why a fire engine has not been delivered three years after money was allocated.

In the 2014-15 financial year, the county allocated Sh50 million for the purchase of  the engine, but residents have yet to see it.

John Esekon, a resident, said it was disappointing that one of the largest counties in the country lacked a fire engine.

Mr Esekon noted that many residents had lost property to fires.

“There have been many fire tragedies but the worst I remember was when over 1,000 families at Kiwanja Ndege village in Turkana North spent nights in the cold after their houses burnt down. The fire destroyed 170 houses and property worth millions of shillings. If we had a fire engine, we would have saved property and houses,” said Esekon.

Esther Akiru, a businesswoman, said many shops in Lodwar had been burnt down.

“Whenever there is a fire, one is never sure of salvaging anything. During such times, our only hope lies with water bowsers. People have to carry water from the bowsers in buckets and try to put out the fire,” said Ms Akiru.

So serious is the situation that on November 20 this year, Turkana County Assembly Speaker Ekitale Lokaale gave a former chief officer for Finance and Economic Planning, Joseph Emathe Namuar, the last chance to appear before the assembly to shed light on the procurement process.

According to the speaker’s ruling, Mr Namuar, who is currently the executive in charge of Water, had been asked to guide the assembly on the course of action it ought to take to resolve the matter, but he had ignored the summons.

“There is no doubt that Mr Emathe was sufficiently served with summonses in accordance with the law, Section 18(9) of the County Assemblies Powers and Privileges Act, 2017. The witness was given an opportunity to explain himself but he chose not to turn up,” read the speaker’s ruling on county assembly’s investigation into the matter.

The summons followed a denial by the department of Lands, Energy, Housing and Urban Management that it was involved in the tendering.

The matter was initially raised in the House on June 30, 2016, by the then Turkwell ward MCA, Jeremiah Lomorukai, and was referred to the Committee on Implementation for investigation.

It was, however, not resolved and it came up again last year in the second assembly when MCA Matthew Alany requested a statement.

He sought disclosure on the tender award, the date when the fire engine would be delivered, the company awarded the tender as well as plans, if any, to ensure that the issue was conclusively resolved.

The engine

According to the speaker, the county government signed an agreement with a contractor - Winston International Limited - for the supply of the engine on May 20, 2016.

“According to the agreement, the contractor was to supply the fire engine at a cost of Sh42,561,560. The department was to spend the balance of Sh7,438,440 to set up a fire station. The contractor was to deliver the fire truck before the end of October 2016. As I deliver this ruling today, two years after the contract was signed, there is no information that the fire engine has been delivered,” the speaker said. 

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Winston International LimitedTurkana CountyFire Engine