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Residents fault 25-bedroom residence earmarked for Siaya Speaker

Siaya County Speaker George Okode at the chambers. He has dismissed claims that the cost for the construction of the Speaker’s residence was inflated. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

Three petitioners now want the tender for the construction of Siaya Assembly Speaker’s residence to be cancelled citing irregularities and breach of the procurement process.

They have also questioned the logic behind constructing a speaker’s residence with 25 bedrooms, two swimming pools, 35 guest wings, a 30-people capacity gym, a sauna, a massage parlour, conference hall and salon.

"Why all these at the expense of essential services to the residents of Siaya such as healthcare and bursary?" They questioned.

The three have written to various agencies including the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, Directorate of Criminal investigations, Director of Public Prosecutions and Public Complaints Commission to investigate Assembly officials in charge of the process.

Former clerk

They argued that the tender was awarded at an exaggerated cost of Sh165 million against the recommended cost of Sh35 million by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC), Commission of Revenue Authority (CRA), Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure, Housing and Urban planning and The Senate.

They have accused the acting assembly clerk Erick Ogenga, the assembly tendering committee and the County Assembly Public Service Board for the alleged illegality.

The three, John Ouma, James Wanga and Irene Atieno now claim the former clerk Felix Olwero could have been removed after he refused to proceed with the procurement process of Sh165 million.

Olwero had in May 2019 said that his firm stance on illegal tenders and loans, an outrageous quotation on the price of an assembly mace and a suspicious policy on the internship programme had led to his suspension from office.

"In November 2018, the Senate standing committee on Finance released a report on the county Government infrastructure projects and during this period, Olwero who was the substantive clerk refused to proceed with the procurement process of Sh165 million," read the petition.

They further said that the Senate, SRC, CRA and Ministry all agreed to cap category of the county assembly Speaker's residence at Sh35 million.

"Based on the foregoing, it is clear that the tender for constructing the residence was deliberately exaggerated and hurriedly procured long after the agencies and the state organs had given their recommendations,” said the petitioners.

Malicious allegations

The county assembly has allocated Sh93.5 million in the financial year 2018/19 and another Sh25 million in the financial year 2019/20 for the construction of the Speaker’s residence.

But yesterday, Speaker George Okode termed the allegations malicious, baseless and inaccurate.

He said the tendering and contract awarding was done in 2015/16 Financial Year.

"Ceiling by SRC was introduced in 2018 long after the tendering and the contract. The ceiling does not only affect Siaya county government but other institutions too. The assembly is in talks with the SRC to find an amicable solution to this stalemate. No money has been spent so far," said Okode.

Efforts to reach the acting clerk proved futile as he did not respond to texts or calls.

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