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Shame of stalled multi-billion shilling projects

By | April 16th 2011

By Kenfrey Kiberenge

Kenyans have continued to miss key services as a result of hundreds of projects initiated decades ago but stalled midway.

Documents from the Ministry Public Works show that most of the projects, started mainly in 1980s, stalled after a few structures were erected.

And although the Kanu regime revived some, 225 of them had to await the intervention of the National Rainbow Coalition administration, which assumed power in 2003.

In 2003, President Kibaki directed the Ministry of Public Works to carry out a survey on all the stalled projects with a view to reviving them.

Pumwani Hospital, one of the stalled projects. [PHOTOS: FILE/STANDARD]

Nyayo Ngomongo Hospital one of the stalled projects. [PHOTOS: FILE/STANDARD]

After the survey, it was established that Sh20 billion was needed to complete the projects.

Since then, Sh8.4 billion has been pumped into some of the projects that were initiated in early 1980s, but turned into white elephants.

Public Works Permanent Secretary John Lonyangapuo says 225 projects were earmarked for revival.

"So far, more than 200 projects have been completed. Now we require Sh12 billion to complete the remaining projects," said the PS.

Structural adjustments

Lonyangapuo argues that the projects stalled as a result of the disgraced Structural Adjustments Programmes introduced in late 1980s, outlining several severe conditions that had to be met by third world countries before they could access loans from the World Bank and IMF.

By then, Kenya had embarked on a number of ambitious projects, including security installations, medical and education facilities.

"The funds dried up and the projects came to a standstill," said Lonyangapuo.

But Government spokesman Alfred Mutua, says, "The (Kibaki) Government inherited 216 stalled projects, some of which were white elephants meant to divert public resources."

One of the affected projects was Kibabii Teachers Training College started in 1987.

Due to the delay, the project that should have cost a modest Sh338 million has seen its cost balloon to a staggering Sh1.76 billion.

The Government bought a 70-acre plot outside Bungoma Municipality for Sh2.2 million.

However, it stalled the same year with just 35 per cent of the work done. The following year, Sh320 million grant from the African Development Bank was extended to Kenya to complete the project.

But the awarding of the contract was delayed until March 1997, nine months to the General Election. It was awarded to Matic General Contractors Limited for Sh338 million.

Although, the contractor had undertaken to complete the project on September 10, 1999, his contract was terminated due to non-performance on November 21, 1997, having done just 0.5 per cent of the work.

For that, the contractor had pocketed Sh33 million in advance payment. Kibabii was one of the beneficiaries of Narc’s "revival of stalled projects" programme of 2003. Kibaki performed a groundbreaking at the site on September 19, 2007 — three months to the General Election.

Millicon’s Limited was awarded the tender for Sh2.1 billion but this figure was later revised downwards to Sh1.76 billion due to budgetary constraints. Public Works ministry now says the project will be revived next month

Another affected project was Westpark police housing project that started in 1987 but was wound up in 1999.

A revival contract was awarded in January 2006 and was due for completion in January 2008.

Terminated contract

However, Dimken Construction Company dragged the contract until October 2008 forcing the Government to terminate it.

The contract was reassigned to Ongata Works Limited in October 2009, and is set to be completed in October. In 1987, the Government again embarked on a plan to complete Mitihani House Phase V, but the project stalled in 1989, with work done to the ground level.

The project was revived in October 2008 and is expected to be complete later this month.

More than Sh857 million is required for the completion of the project, with Sh146 million already paid out.

In another project, completion of Pumwani Hospital is in limbo after it stalled in 1990 after three years under construction.

The project was mooted as a provincial general hospital, which according to the Nairobi Strategic Health Plan would have decongested Kenyatta National Hospital.

The works were programmed for execution in two phases with the first phase comprising 288-bed ward, kitchen-cum-laundry block and associated services.

The first phase should have cost Sh66 million and ought to have been completed in September 1987, but Lonyangapuo says private developers have grabbed part of the land.

"Instead of people being treated, what we have on the site are landlords and tenants. The ministries of Lands and Medical Services need to tell us what happened to the title deeds," said Lonyangapuo.

Closely related to this is the proposed completion of Mathare Nyayo Hospital in Korogocho slums in Nairobi, which was started in 1989 at an estimated cost of Sh286 million. It stalled in March 1990 with only 10 per cent executed.

It was revived in 1993 but stalled again in 1994 due to insufficient funds and demands by the contractor to have cost variations due to inflation.

Lack of funds

When the project was revived in the current financial year, the cost shot up from the initial Sh286 million to 823 million to be spent in three years. However, the project is yet to commence due to lack of funds.

Kibish Police Station, GSU camp and AP lines stalled in 1999 having been started in 1987. However, the project was revived in January, last year, as part of the completion of stalled projects programme. It is expected to be completed in January 2013, at a cost of Sh2.1 billion.

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