Get to the bottom of growing scandals across the country

The Kimwarer and Arror dam projects in Elgeyo Marakwet County are the latest in the ever growing list of scams in the country. To Kenyans, there seems to be a surfeit of scandals despite tough, yet completely ineffective talk from an executive long on talk about ending the vice of corruption, but extremely short on action. In this latest investigation, the number of firms involved - at least 107 - goes to show just how complex and deeply rooted corruption is.

For the Kimwarer and Arror hydro-power dams, the Government allocated a total Sh63 billion, part of which has already been spent, ostensibly on compensating 800 families on whose land the dams were to be constructed. However, after investigations, the reality on the ground is that no land has so far been acquired. This raises serious concerns on the role of the National Land Commission in whose jurisdiction land compensation for government projects falls. Mystery still surrounds compensation for the land on which the first phase of the SGR between Mombasa and Nairobi was constructed.

There is no evidence that preliminary work on the Kimwarer and Arror dams is in progress, yet the work should have started in 2017. The Sh6.3 billion initially paid out seems to have gone into paying kickbacks; greasing the palms on politicians, consultants, hoteliers, businessmen and a host of other individuals involved in the rip-off.

To date, there have been far too many scandals involving the loss of billions of shillings of tax payers’ money. Notable among them are the slightly over Sh150 billion Goldenberg scandal, Sh6.8 billion Anglo Leasing, Sh 7.6 billion Triton, Sh5 billion Afya House scam, the unfolding multi-billion shilling NHIF scandals, the Sh10 billion National Youth Service scandals, Sh95 billion Kenya Pipeline scandal, the Sh6 billion Kenya Power scandal, SGR land compensation scandal and the Galana-Kulalu irrigation scheme that came a cropper despite an investment of over Sh7 billion.

SEE ALSO :Dam scandal: Key suspects in big trouble

Were this money to be put to good public use, there would be no need for comparison between Kenya and countries like Singapore and Malaysia with whom Kenya was at par in the early 1960s, but in whose dust we were left after embracing corruption as a way of life. The theft of such large amounts of money speak of the richness of a country left to go to waste by a lack of political goodwill , commitment to good governance  and accountability structures. Despite the heavy taxation, Kenyans hardly get value for their taxes, and that is because government functionaries have, over time, converted national project into cash cows. This must stop immediately.

The need for the executive to go beyond the tough-talk stage in fighting corruption cannot be over emphasised. There has been too much talk and recriminations between government institutions charged with fighting corruption that the public no longer knows who to believe. It is not even clear whether there is real political goodwill to fight corruption, and the sluggish nature of litigation does not help matters.

Indeed, this only entrenches growing public perception that from the outset, it might never have been the intention of the executive to arrest the corrupt, particularly because the main suspects, as revealed through ongoing investigations by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations, are very highly placed individuals; among them, Cabinet Secretaries and Principle Secretaries. Were that the case from the beginning, the executive might have won, given waning public interest in the hyped war on corruption that even to the common man, appears headed nowhere. Where there should have been palpable public anger, there is only resignation.

Parliament’s Pubic Investment Committee (PIC) must justify its existence. Granted, some Members of Parliament are among those cited for corruption, but impunity must be stopped if Kenya hopes to make strides in the right direction, mainly, to improve its economy and uplift the living standards of its citizens. PIC has the power to ask the Government to give a proper accounting of every penny that has gone through the Treasury as the custodian of public funds. Reining corruption must be accompanied by tough action and convictions, barring which the executive could as well be playing to the public gallery.

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KimwarerArror dam projectsElgeyo Marakwet CountyGovernmentSh63 billionGalana-Kulalu irrigation schemeSGRScandal