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Eyesore white elephant projects gobble billions as Rift Valley governors exit

Stalled Nandi governor's office in Kapsabet. The audit shows the county had spent Sh97 million on the facility before it stalled. [File, Standard]

Incomplete and abandoned best describes tens of mega projects initiated by counties in the Rift Valley region.

The state of the projects that have consumed billions of shillings of taxpayers money range from poorly done, stalled, marked complete to those yet to be utilised.

They have become an eyesore in the counties with some raising questions as to whether they were prioritised in the funding plans of the taxpayers’ money.

Auditor General Nancy Gathungu in a recent audit on counties revealed that taxpayers are yet to get value for their money, hence denial of services.

For instance, the audit reveals a delay in the implementation of over 1,252 projects in Elgeyo Marakwet County. The county had budgeted Sh1.97 billion that was allocated to eight departments to finance the projects in the Financial Year 2019-20.

According to the audit, most projects were behind their completion schedules and the county had spent Sh841.86 million on June 30, 2020, on 911 of the projects. The Auditor-General noted that the delays denied the locals of Elgeyo Marakwet the services and other economic benefits that accrue from the projects.

Additionally, the costs of implementing the projects could rise due to inflationary and or other factors. “Audit inspection of a sample 39 projects budgeted to cost Sh115.89 million in aggregate, with payments totalling Sh102.44 million made as of June 30, 2020, confirmed the completion of 27 projects whereas 12 projects were incomplete,” read the audit report.

Auditor General Nancy Gathungu when she appeared before Parliament's Public Accounts Committee, December 7, 2021. [David Njaaga, Standard]

Payments totalling Sh37.10 million had been made on the remainder of 12 projects which were either ongoing or abandoned.

“In addition to denying public services to the residents, the incomplete, abandoned or poorly done projects could result in ineffective use public funds,” noted the report.

In Baringo County, 181 projects were marked as incomplete, 38 complete and not in use, 334 projects with status not indicated, 450 projects not started, 98 as ongoing and 25 as awarded and site handover.

The County Project Implementation Status Report as of June 30, 2020, indicated that 1, 126 projects were contracted at Sh1.66 billion.

The county, it was noted failed to implement 27 flagship projects worth Sh2.14 billion. The projects as per the audit were not included in the annual development plans and budgets for the year. “Failure to implement the flagship projects may hinder the attainment of the county’s development goals,” stated the audit.

In Nyandarua County, the audit revealed that projects valued at Sh78.17 million were incomplete.

The levelling of Mirangine Market at Sh1.50 million could not be completed due to interference from third parties. The construction of a Sh1.2 million toilet in Mirangine could also not be completed and the contractor had left the site as there was interference from third parties, according to the report.

The proposed levelling works at Kasuku Market worth Sh997,416 was also indicated to be incomplete and the contractor had left the site despite receiving full payment.

Abandoned the site

Construction works at Maran borehole valued at Sh3.40 million was however completed but water is yet to be distributed to homesteads. At Kangubiri Dispensary, the contractor had abandoned the site after completing only five per cent of the works for the project valued at Sh12.97 million.

According to the audit report, the VIP Dias at Olkalou Stadium valued at Sh51.11 million had stalled and the contractor was not on site, despite receiving 88 per cent of the contract sum. “From the foregoing, the value for money from the contracts is valued at Sh78. 17 million cannot be confirmed,” read the audit.

Laikipia County on the other hand made payments of Sh2.974 billion for stalled construction of Dol Dol Social Hall. The audit revealed that the Sh8.77 million contract was awarded. A review of the progress report indicated the foundation works had only been done to about 10 per cent.

Laikipia governor Ndiritu Muriithi, December 20, 2021. [Mose Sammy, Standard]

“The progress report indicated that reinforcement to ring beam fabrication had been completed. Physical inspection revealed that the works had not been completed, the contractor was not on-site and the work had stalled,” stated the audit.

Other projects in the area included the construction of ECDE facilities at Igwamiti which despite payment of Sh1.40 million, doors and windows were poorly done and could not open or close while some windowpanes had been broken and the painting on the wall was unevenly applied.

 

The audit also flagged poor workmanship in the construction of ECDE Classroom at Bahati and Kalalu in Umande Ward.

Rumuruti Jua Kali, Lamuria Jua Kali grounds and Ilopolei slaughter slab grounds valued at Sh643.9 million remained unutilised despite completion. “Physical inspection on the projects revealed that the projects had not been utilised and appeared neglected without any activities and maintenance. It is not clear whether the County Executive conducted public participation to sensitise the public on the proposed projects and ensure public ownership,” stated the Auditor General.

The audit revealed that statements on the project’s implementation report indicated that grading, gravelling, and culvert installation works in Ngeria-Gitugi road in Mukogondo East Ward were awarded Sh3.99 million but were complete.

However, an inspection carried out in December 2020 revealed that the project had not started. In Bomet County, 104 projects worth Sh930.43  million were either incomplete, were ongoing, or had stalled.

Physical verification of 34 sampled projects contracted at Sh332.58 million revealed unsatisfactory issues on their implementation.

Irregular procurement of works, low quality and delays, unauthorised variations of project scope and materials as well as stalling and abandonment of some projects was noted.

In Nandi County, the audit revealed delays in installation and commissioning of the Nandi Co-operative Creameries milk processing plant.

Equipment lie idle

Statement on receipts and payments as per the audit reflected an acquisition of assets expenditure amounting to Sh823.84 million, including payment of Sh102.19 million paid for the design, supply, delivery, installation and commissioning of Nandi Co-operative Creameries milk processing plant and civil works signed on June 14, 2019.

“The tender for the supply and delivery of the equipment was entered into before the main builder’s works were completed and the equipment delivered is likely to lie idle over a long period of time,” read the audit.

The construction of the Nandi County Governor’s Office had also stalled. The county executive in the 2018/2019 financial year hired a contractor to build the governor’s office at Sh103.38 million.

The contract was varied to accommodate an additional floor at a cost of Sh21.19 million. Payment totaling Sh97.69 million, the audit revealed, had been made to the contractor.

Nandi County Governor Stephen Sang, February 2022. [Peter Ochieng, Standard]

“However, the contractor was not on-site and the project had stalled. In addition, the county budget for the year 2019/2020 provided for an allocation of Sh20.78 million to the project towards its completion but the funds were not utilised. In view of the delay, no value has been obtained on payments worth Sh97.69 million made to the contractor,” read the audit.

In Trans Nzoia, the delay in the completion of the construction of the Teaching and Referral Hospital was noted.

The Sh1.42 billion contract was awarded in the financial year 2016/2017. The project commenced on December 15, 2017, and was expected to be completed on February 23, 2019.

The audit however revealed a cumulative payment of Sh1.32 billion made to the contractor as of December 4, 2020. In addition, the contractor had partially handed over completed sections of the works namely; the warehouse, incinerator, biomedical gases unit, kitchen and laundry.

In Kericho, the construction of a laboratory at Roret Sub-County Hospital had stalled despite the executive incurring Sh3.50 million on the project. The contractor terminated works in January 2020, due to cash flow problems.

In the county’s Soko Huru ICT Centre, Sh1.70 million could not be utilised due to a lack of electricity.

In Samburu County, the audit of 29 development projects valued at Sh328.38 million revealed several unsatisfactory issues - including delay in completion, poor quality workmanship and failure to put completed projects to use.

In Turkana County, the construction of a business centre in Lodwar had stalled. The county paid Sh22.20 million but physical verification of the project in January 2020 confirmed that the contractor had deserted the site and the project had stalled.

The audit noted a delay in the rehabilitation of the Kaputir Irrigation Scheme worth Sh78.42 million. A review of the status report indicated that Sh47 million had been paid towards the project.