Counties huge bills on governors house rent despite SRC directive

Auditor-General Nancy Gathungu. [Mose Sammy, Standard]

In Marsabit County, the report revealed there was no evidence the County Executive had started construction of residences for the Governor and Deputy Governor in compliance with the SRC Circular.

The audit revealed, Sh2,160,000 was paid to a company for the provision of accommodation to the Deputy Governor for two years.

Construction works for Tharaka Nithi Deputy Governor's residence, whose construction started in the Financial Year 2018/2019 it was revealed has stalled. The contract award was Sh30, 279,440, and Sh23, 930,894 of the contract price had been paid by April 14, 2020.

In Embu, the county, the report revealed, had entered into a contract for the construction of the governor's residence with a company at a contract sum of Sh49,703,439 on March 8, 2021.

The contract period was to run for 72 weeks with an expected completion date of September 8, 2022.

"Physical inspection carried out in October 2022 revealed that the contractor was not on site and the contract period had already lapsed. No evidence was provided to confirm whether the contractor had sought an extension of time or a default notice had been issued to the contractor by the County Executive. In the circumstances, value for money on the expenditure totaling to Sh27, 547,999 incurred so far on the Governor's Residence could not be confirmed," read the report in part.

Murang'a County Government paid rent for the governor's residence rent amounting to Sh3,338,148 between July 2021 and August 2022. However, Sh1,938,148 was paid above the Sh100,000 maximum monthly rent limit set by SRC.

The report shows the governor and deputy governor's residences in Vihiga County are incomplete. The construction commenced on March 28, 2019, and was expected to run for 78 weeks with an expected completion date of September 28, 2020.

Marsabit, Tharaka Nithi, Embu, Kitui, Machakos and Homa Bay county assembly speaker houses are yet to be completed.

For the County Assembly of Marsabit, it had budgeted to acquire land for the construction of the official residence for the Speaker, but had not acquired the residence.

In Tharaka Nithi, the speaker's residence is incomplete, and the contractor is not on site.

Though the County Assembly of Embu had allocated Sh8 million towards the purchase of land to construct the Speaker's residence, the money was not spent.

The audit noted that the management explained that when the County Assembly advertised for purchase of land, no responsive bid was obtained and the procurement was deferred to a later date. The audit noted that there was no communication on retendering.

"This was contrary to Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) circular Ref. NO. SRC/TS/CGOVT/3/61/VOL.V (52) dated 12 July 2021 requiring the Counties to hasten the construction of the official residences by allocating funds and prioritizing the construction and that the option for paying rents or leasing houses for eligible state officers to cease as at 30 June 2022," read the report.

The County Assembly of Kitui, at the time of the audit, was yet to purchase land for the construction of the house. In Machakos, the construction of the speaker's house had stalled.

Narok County Assembly paid Sh1.1 million as rent for the Speaker's residence as the Assembly has not constructed or procured a residence.

"This was contrary to the Salaries and Remuneration Commission Circular referenced SRC/TS/COG/6/61/48VOL.II (64) of 20 May 2019, which directed that the deadline for County Governments to pay rent to County Assembly Speakers be 30 June 2022. No explanation was provided for the failure to acquire a residence for the Speaker," stated the Auditor General.

A review of rental records revealed that the County Assembly of Homa Bay had not constructed the speaker's official residence but continued to pay rent.