Kenya embassy residences in poor condition, audit reveals

Kenya's High Commission in London. [Courtesy]

Residences for Kenya’s High Commissioners in Islamabad and London are not habitable, a recent audit on the State Department for Foreign Affairs has revealed. 

Auditor General Nancy Gathungu, in the financial year 2022-2023 audit report, revealed that the chancery building and high commissioner’s residence in Islamabad is in poor condition. 

The audit revealed that the State Department entered into a contract for the proposed construction of the chancery building and high commissioner’s residence at a revised contract price of approximately Sh418, 865,923 in 2008.  

However, the contractor abandoned the site in 2014 after receiving Sh415,904,556. 

The department is said to have terminated the contract and entered into another contract for the completion of pending works at a revised price of PKRs 108,269,034 (approximately Sh56,024,272.67). The final payment was made in June, 2020. 

Gathungu said at the time of the audit in August 2023, the chancery and high commissioner’s residence was in poor condition. 

She said various defects, including inadequate drainage, incomplete works on lifts, cracked walls, and poor workmanship, were noted. 

The State Department, she said, was in the process of procuring another contractor for remedial works in the chancery and high commissioner’s residence, which had not been concluded as of November 2023. 

Gathungu also noted that the renovation works of the High Commissioner and Deputy High Commissioner’s Residence in London had commenced despite the non-existence of a contract and bills of quantities. 

During the Financial Year, she noted that the management undertook minor renovations of the residence. 

On completion of the works, the inspection team, vide minutes dated January 24, 2023, recommended and approved additional works to make the house habitable. A contract, she said, was issued on April 24, 2023. 

The mission, the auditor-general said, continued to pay rent for a leased house for the high commissioner since October, 2022, when the renovations commenced at a monthly rate of GBP13,250 (Sh2,027,250). 

Similarly, the deputy high commissioner ended his tour of duty on August 30, 2023, having stayed in a leased house at a quarterly rent of GBP 11,400 (Sh1,744,200). 

“In the circumstances, the State Department has continued to incur rental expenses which could have been avoided had the houses been renovated promptly,” she stated. 

She also noted the delay in the purchase of chancery for Kenya Mission in London. 

The lease for the chancery for Kenya Mission in London, she said, expired on October 10, 2021, and subsequently the department transferred Sh1,669,999,550 in the financial year 2021/2022 and 2022/2023 for the purchase of the chancery building. However, the process of acquisition had been halted. 

Gathungu said the delay in purchasing the  Chancery building may lead to increased cost of lease rental. A further analysis of the report revealed that the Government of Kenya has four plots in Kinshasa. However, one of the plots which hosts the chancery did not have ownership documents. 

“Efforts by the mission to obtain the ownership documents from the lands office in Kinshasa were not successful since the office insisted on documents to prove the ownership before the allotment letter and title deed could be processed,” revealed the audit. 

They also revealed that the ambassador’s residence in the Kenyan Mission in Pretoria is not being utilised. 

Kenya reportedly entered into a contract on July 1, 2015, for the proposed construction of ambassador’s residence and staff houses for the High Commission in Pretoria at a cost of Sh765,000,000. 

An audit inspection conducted in August, 2023, revealed that the ambassador’s residence, which had been completed, remained vacant since it had not been furnished.