Contractors demand Sh1.2bn in unpaid bills from county leadership

However the contractors said they were hard pressed for finances due to the delayed payments, saying some risk being auctioned while others said they could not honour their various financial obligations.

Through their chairman Stephen Etirikia who is a former Akithi MCA, the contractors said the amount owed to them currently stood at over Sh700 million.

"There are some who are owed money ranging from Sh40 million to Sh3 million, according to the magnitude of the contract. Some worked on road grading, others have done building works, and dispensaries," said Etirikia.

He said that his company was owed Sh2.9 million for ongoing road upgrade projects in the Igembe region.

"Some of the pending bills are ongoing works. There are complete works waiting payments and others ongoing," he said.

Etirikia apportioned blame to both the former governor Kiraitu Murungi and Governor Kawira's administrations, accusing the latter of delay in preparing a supplementary budget.

"What caused the problem in the last regime was this skewed payment. They left many contractors unpaid," he said, blaming the politics of the day.

"The biggest problem has not been created by this government. The problem this government has created is delays in actually preparing the supplementary budget to forward to the County Assembly," he added.

Etirikia said the current government has not issued payments to any contractors because it does not have a budget.

He further blamed the disunity in Meru, which he claimed had prevented the Executive from preparing a supplementary budget to take to the assembly for contractors to be paid the outstanding amounts.

Etirikia said he undertook the road upgrade contract sometime last year and was supposed to deliver it by October last year. He said some other contractors had bank loans while others "assisted" one another to fund the projects.

But along the way many abandoned the projects since they ran out of funds, he said.

"Many contractors including myself decided to stop a bit and wait until the county (government) settles their dispute. The only reason they have not been paid is the disunity in the county. If they (Executive) had forwarded the supplementary budget we would have been paid," Etirikia said.

A contractor who wished not to be named said the friction between Governor Kawira and MCAs had made their lives more difficult.

"The governor has a right to investigate the pending bills and decide which ones are legitimate and which ones are fake, if any. But we expect the Auditor General to ensure that no money comes to the Executive until we are paid first, because our lives are a nightmare," he said.

He said he owed huge amounts in fee arrears at his children's schools and could not service the loan he took from a Sacco.

Assembly Finance Committee Chairman Dennis Kiogora said Kawira had not paid because she was verifying the bills.