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Taita Taveta millions go to waste in stalled mega-projects

By Renson Mnyamwezi | Published Thu, February 8th 2018 at 00:00, Updated February 7th 2018 at 22:26 GMT +3
A past chaotic session in the Taita Taveta County Assembly. A task force has accused former administration of commissioning white elephant projects [Renson Mnyamwezi, Standard]

A task force report has unearthed massive wastage of funds on projects that were never completed.

The probe, ordered by Governor Granton Samboja, faulted officials of the former administration for investing millions of shillings in scattered projects across the county that have since stalled.

According to the report, some of the projects stalled midway even after money was allocated for them; others are complete but have never been put to use while others were abandoned by contractors for lack of payment.

“The projects were carried out in blatant disregard of technical advice on budgetary allocation, exclusion of the county legal office in signing contracts,” said the report.

“Yet another failure was honouring of payment by the county government and non-adherence to the contractual agreement by the contractors," said the probe team.

Contractor payments

The county now risks paying millions of shillings to contractors for unused or incomplete projects.

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In one instance, several polytechnics and dispensaries were built but still lack equipment, personnel, learning materials, furniture and drugs.

“It is advisable to allocate funds to one mega-project in a ward until it is fully completed and operational before embarking on other projects,” said the report.

The probe team concluded that a number of projects implemented by the former administration through the Ward Equalisation Fund were not only for political expediency but also undermined the county's planning and budgetary process.

Speaking at his office when the task force handed him the report on Monday, Mr Samboja declared that his administration would only pay pending bills that were factual, verifiable and legitimate.

The governor warned contractors and technical officers who did not carry out their work according to specifications that they would be dealt with according to the law.

Samboja said failure by technical officers to supervise projects provided a loophole for unscrupulous contractors to exploit and rob the county.

Records seen by The Standard indicate that the county administration owes contractors more than Sh978.7 million in pending bills.

Samboja has questioned the figure, wondering why the bills were not paid when more than Sh5.4 billion was available in the county coffers.

Pending bills

The governor said when he took office last year, he was informed that the county's pending bills stood at Sh724 million, and ordered an audit of all projects before the bills could be settled.

“With these discrepancies in mind, I hereby order an immediate verification of all invoices, local purchase orders and inspection of certification for payment from technical officers,” he said.

The report was presented by former permanent secretary Philemon Mwaisaka.

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