County in fresh row with contractors over Sh1 billion pending bills

Kisumu Governor Anyang' Nyong'o (left) while laying a foundation for the Paedriatic Ward at Kombewa Sub-County ward in Seme Constituency. The Sh168 million ward will improve medical services to boost a successful Universal Health Cover which has been rolled out in the county. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

A fresh row has erupted between the county and contractors over Sh1 billion pending bills.

The contractors and suppliers have rejected the county’s decision to reevaluate all pending bills, some dating back to 2013, to ascertain their authenticity.

On October 7, the county placed a notice to the contractors, asking them to appear before a Pending Bills Appeals Committee formed to confirm the status of their bills.

This, the county claimed, was in response to the Auditor General’s report that raised questions on a number of bills.

“In this regard, contractors and suppliers are requested to confirm the status of their bills incurred by the county government up to June 30, 2018 to the committee,” read part of the notice to the contractors and suppliers signed by Pending Bills Appeals Committee chairman Nelson Otieno.

However, the contractors, through their association, have rejected the summons which are set to begin on October 14, and threatened to seek legal redress on the matter.

They claim that the summons were a ploy by the county government to deny them their rightful dues.

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In a response letter to the notice, signed by Kisumu County Contractors and Suppliers Association chairman Jared Nyagol, the suppliers poked holes in the communication from the county government, saying it did not meet legal standards.

They questioned the constitutionality of the composition of the Pending Bills Appeals Committee and its mandate.

The association also argued that the committee ought to have had representatives from the contractors.

“The Pending Bills Committee did their inspection of the affected projects without involving the contractors and suppliers concerned or their representatives as per the Public Procurement and Assets Disposal Act 2015,” stated the association.

But even with the committee now up and running, the contractors claim that the blanket nature of the summonses indicated lack of clarity in what was contained in the said Auditor General’s report.

The association insisted that the appeals committee should write directly to affected firms stating the nature of the documents found missing in their bills.

When he assumed office in 2017, Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o formed a task force to look into the Sh3.5 billion pending bills which he had inherited from the previous administration.

The contractor’s association now says that the report of the task force authenticated their bills before they were processed for payment.

“Our observation is that for the files to reach payment office from respective departments, all relevant documents must have been authorised by the Chief Officers of the departments who initiated the affected projects,” said Mr Nyagol.

Contractors warned

County director of communication Aloice Ager, however, warned the contractors against ignoring the committee summons, saying the report from the committee will be final.

“Should the contractors ignore the committee, the committee will write a report, and that will be the end of everything,” he said.

According to Ager, the committee was formed in line with the directive from the national treasury, following the Auditor General’s report

He said that the committee’s head is a private consultant appointed by Treasury and that the county had no interest in the membership of the committee.

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Pending Bills Appeals CommitteeAuditor GeneralTreasurySuppliers