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Nyanza counties in rush to build assembly speakers' residences


Kisumu county assembly speakers house in Milimani Estate. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

A number of counties in Nyanza are rushing to build official residences for assembly Speakers to save money on the high cost of renting houses for officials.

The development comes more than three months after counties failed to meet the June 30 deadline set by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) to build speaker's houses.

The counties were also expected to build governors' and deputies' residences. Only Kisumu has already built a speaker's house, which has yet to be occupied as the assembly rushes to complete it.

Other counties are also working on budgets to begin construction of official residences and are considering ways to include budgetary allocations in their supplementary budgets to allow them to begin construction by January.

The SRC issued a June 30 deadline for county governments and county assemblies across the country to lease houses for governors, deputy governors, and speakers in August 2020.

According to the guidelines, county governments were to identify sites for official residences on county-owned land and construct buildings costing no more than Sh35 million for the speakers.

After failing to meet the deadline, The Standard has learned that County Assemblies are working overtime to find land on which to build the palatial official homes of the speakers.

In Kisumu, the assembly chose a plot of land next to the opulent Milimani estate and the State Lodge.

The VIP house, which cost taxpayers Sh34 million, is located in one of Kisumu's affluent neighbourhoods.

A spot check by The Standard at the site where Speaker Elisha Oraro's official residence is being built revealed that the structure has already been built and is nearing completion.

The construction of the house was one of the county assembly's priority projects as part of its efforts to put in place viable capital expenditure projects.

The county assembly is also building a modern assembly, which will help it save money on renting offices for staff.

According to Speaker Oraro, the building's construction is nearly finished. "I am pleased to report that the speaker's residence is now complete, and construction of an ultramodern assembly is also underway," Oraro said.

As a result of the developments, Kisumu is the first county in the Nyanza region to complete the construction of the speaker's house, while the other counties remain uncertain.

The County Assembly in Nyamira has prioritised the construction of the speaker's house in its supplementary budget, as well as accelerated the development of the house plan.

The county government had set aside Sh10 million to begin construction, but officials say they have decided to reconsider the expenditure in their budget.

House Speaker Enock Okero stated that the House Budget Committee is already working on a Supplementary Appropriations Bill that will include, among other things, the revised budget for the Speaker's official residence, which has yet to be confirmed.

"We intend to supplement the current amount with additional funds, which will also include the ongoing construction of Assembly Offices," he said.

Okero confirmed that construction will most likely begin in early January.

"We have done tendering of the works, and the relevant department is already doing bid evaluation in anticipation that the contractor will have started the works by mid-December of the new year," the Speaker said.

Even though the first Assembly allocated Sh10 million for it, construction of the official structure has been delayed for more than seven years.

Okero stated that it had slowed due to financial difficulties with the National Treasury, but that it will now resume operations in accordance with SRC regulations.

A comparable development has been reported in Homa Bay, where the assembly has already approved a plan to begin construction within the next three weeks.

The assembly has already put everything in place and identified the parcel on which the speaker's official residence will be built. aith Apuko, County Assembly Clerk, stated that the architectural drawing for the speaker's building has been completed.

Apuko told The Standard that construction on the house will begin later this month. "We plan to break ground in the next two or three weeks," Apuko said. She stated that the architectural drawing of the house plan was completed.

"The speaker's house is one of our planned activities for this fiscal year," Apuko said. The house will be built in the town of Homa Bay.

Kisii has yet to establish the official residence of the County Assembly Speaker. The first Assembly Speaker, Kerosi Ondieki, used to work from two homes in Bonchari Sub County, one in Gesonso and the other in Riamasagara.

Reports by Harold Odhiambo, James Omoro, Stanley Ongwae and Eric Abuga

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