Contractors decry living in poverty as counties delay to release payment

Stalled Kisumu - Kakamega road construction at Mamboleo junction that was initially being constructed by Solel Boneh International (SBI) company. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

In Kisii, the county government began paying some pending bills as well as some contractors who are undertaking key mega projects.

The Gusii Contractors Association chairperson Peter Momanyi challenged Governor Simba Arati to pay the pending bills to allow for the smooth transition of key projects. "Some of the projects were approved for payment. We are requesting the governor to make the payments. Some of us are going deep into debt."

On Tuesday, Kisii Governor Simba Arati said the Pending Bills Committee was finalizing its report. "By the end of this month, we will have made genuine bills. We will pay for the work which has been done."

Kisii had pending bills amounting to Sh1. 33 billion as of September 30, 2022, despite the availability of cash in the County Revenue Fund, which stood at Sh831 million at the end of the

Last month, the Office of the Controller of Budget called on Kisii county leadership to take charge of the worsening pending bills situation to ensure genuine bills are paid without delay in the remaining period of the financial year.

In her report, Controller of Budget Dr. Margaret Nyakang'o says the county should identify and address issues causing delays in implementing development projects.

A similar development is also taking place in Migori where several contractors are only barely struggling to make ends meet despite betting on county jobs to change their fortunes.

While speaking to the Standard on phone, former Migori governor Okoth Obado, disclosed that by the time he was leaving office, the national treasury had not disbursed almost Sh2 billion.

"A project can take several months to be paid and when done, it can be paid after the financial year has ended," the former governor said. In his view, the national treasury disburses funds to the county government to carry out various activities including development projects which can only be paid after 100 per cent completion.

He said contractors who had worked must be paid because the projects in the county were legally awarded.

Recently, Migori Governor Achilo Ayacko said that the county government had not received funds from the national government for four months. The governor said the national government owes the county close to Sh2.6 billion. "Government should bring funds so that service delivery can continue," he said.

[Erick Abuga, Anne Atieno and Harold Odhiambo]