Contractors colluded with county officers to ripoff the government

A pending bills verification committee scrutinised payment claims and toured project sites, unearthing massive overpricing in some projects.

Contractors and county officials conspired to defraud Meru County by inflating bills for various projects and equipment, a report has said.

A pending bills verification committee scrutinised payment claims and toured project sites, unearthing massive overpricing in some projects.

The team also found that some payments were done without following procedure.

The committee handed over its report to Governor Kiraitu Muriungi last week.

A 10,000 litre plastic water tank that would ordinarily cost Sh70,000 was bought at Sh500,000.

A floodlight that costs Sh50,000 was charged at Sh500,000 and works on a kilometre of road was charged at Sh31 million instead of Sh10 million.

The verification committee, which was chaired by Riungi M’Ikieni, recommended that the contractors be investigated.

“There are also (government) officers who trade with the county government. This is conflict of interest and they should also be investigated. There were also dishonest officers and contractors,” the team said.

Mr M'Ikieni said overpayment to some contractors should be investigated and recovery proceedings instituted.

The team said the county administration should only pay Sh200 million of the Sh806.3 million pending bills.

M'Ikieni said the committee only approved 487 of the 864 contractors' claims that had followed legal procedures.

Some of the projects cited in some payment claims were nonexistent, the report said.

The team split into groups to visit projects and speak to residents.

“The Public Procurement and Disposal Act 2015 was flouted. There were preferred contractors and suppliers for some of the projects. We summoned county officials. Some came but others did not,” M'Ikieni said.

Kiraitu and his deputy, Titus Ntuchiu, said action would be taken against those found culpable.

 

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