Eldoret Water company in a spot over stalled Sh635m projects years on

Rift Valley
By Jacob Ng'etich | Jul 31, 2023
Stalled dining hall at Chebara girls high school in Elgeyo Marakwet County on Sunday 9 May, 2021. [Christopher Kipsang,Standard]

In 1999, former President Daniel arap Moi opened Chebara Dam to address water shortage in Eldoret town, Uasin Gishu County.

Several public institutions had to be relocated to give way to the dam located in Elgeyo Marakwet County.

Years later, the host community is raising concerns over stalled Sh635 million public institutions that were relocated to pave way for the dam.

Eldoret Water and Sanitation Company (Eldowas) is at pains to explain why the projects have stalled.

Other concerns the host community has raised include lack of compensation, social investments, job opportunities and conservation strategy.

The stalled projects include Chebara Boys and Chebara Girls secondary schools, Chebara and Kaptomut primary schools, Chebara Vocational Training Centre and Chebara African Inland Church.

These projects are now on the verge of being condemned after their structural integrity was compromised by the vagaries of the weather over the years.

Most of the buildings belonging to the institutions have remained unfinished.

At Chebara High School, the imposing main building has been without roofing for years, leaving the concrete and pillars worn out by rain.

According to the Auditor General report, by 2014, two years after construction the institutions were already debt-ridden. Construction of the multi-million shilling projects was expected to start in 2012 and be completed by January 2014 after the state released Sh700 million through the Ministry of Water and Irrigation.

The special audit report which was ordered by the Lake Victoria North Water Services Board now Lake Victoria North Water Works Development Agency (LVNWDA) identified irregular payments of Sh49 million as well as expenditure amounting to Sh34 million. The Auditor General said this was not itemised in the initial project budget.

Eldowas distanced itself from claims of misappropriation of funds even as Elgeyo Marakwet leaders blamed the water firm for giving them a raw deal.

Marakwet West MP Timothy Kipchumba has petitioned President William Ruto to intervene and ensure completion of the projects.

Speaking in Parliament on Wednesday, Kipchumba said: "The projects will be condemned in less than two years' time because they have stalled for long and they might be unsafe to be constructed. A lot of money has gone down the drain and yet the people are languishing in poverty."

The Marakwet West MP wants the government to declare the funds allocated for relocation of Chebara Boys Secondary School, Chebara Girls Secondary School, AIC Chebara and Kaptomut Primary School.

"As we speak, many of the projects have stalled. We want the Cabinet Secretary to shed light on how the money allocated to each institution was utilised and the pending bills accruing from the projects that the Ministry is undertaking in the above institutions," he said.

Kipchumba noted that for three decades Chebara dam has been supplying about 36,000 cubic metres of water per day water to Eldowas which serves the residents of Eldoret town and its environs.

While responding to the Marakwet West MP's question in the National Assembly, Water Cabinet Secretary Alice Wahome said Sh620.5 million was allocated towards Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) projects for institutions which were relocated to pave way for construction of the dam.

Wahome noted that Sh237.6 million was awarded to Chebara Boys which was given to Kishan builders and others for the construction while Sh136.2 million was issued to Chebara Youth Polytechnic which was awarded to Rapola General Contractors Limited and others to undertake development projects.

The CS said Chebara Girls Secondary School was awarded Sh126.2 million, Chebara Boys Chapel got Sh30.7 million while Chebara Primary School (Sh18.4 million) and Kaptomut Primary School was awarded Sh71 million.

She noted that a multi-agency team from the Ministry of Water, the Ministry of Education, Uasin Gishu and Elgeyo Marakwet county governments and North Rift Water Works Development Agency was recently dispatched to establish the expenditure on the CSR projects.

The multi-agency team proposed that the Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development undertake a audit to establish the scope of the pending works.

Wahome said the team also recommended that the Ministry of Education should compel Chebara Secondary School to provide original copies of contracts, procurement records, financial records and project implementation documents.

"The multi-agency team also recommended that relevant investigative agencies conduct a forensic audit and take necessary action," said the Water CS.

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