A Senate committee wants the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) to probe the expenditure of more than Sh100 billion received by the Turkana County government since the advent of devolution.
The Senate County Public Accounts Committee toured various development projects in the county which were started during the tenure of former Governor Josphat Nanok, where they were shocked to find that many had stalled despite the allocation of billions of shillings.
Committee Chairperson Moses Kajwang raised concerns over misplaced priorities as the county still struggles with hunger, insecurity, poor healthcare, water shortage, poor education and road infrastructure.
“When we came to Turkana County for Senate Mashinani, we expected to see how devolution has turned around the lives of the area residents who experience harsh weather conditions, face insecurity and, hunger and have been marginalised since independence, sadly that is not the case,” said Kajwang, who is the senator for Homa Bay County.
When the senators toured the county headquarters which has been under construction since 2015, they were informed that the tender value for the project was increased from the original Sh695 million to Sh829 million and still requires Sh20 million for electrical work before it is completed.
The committee established that 20 air conditioners that were procured for Sh84 million were fixed on the building despite the facility lacking power. The building also has a perimeter wall, which has consumed millions of shillings, yet it is within the fence of the larger county premises.
Kajwang said it was disturbing that construction of the governor and speaker’s residences and county assembly premises stalled despite more than Sh1 billion being used on the three projects. He called on the EACC to investigate individuals responsible for plundering county resources.
“When we came here, we expected to see new health facilities, water and agriculture projects to account for the over Sh100 billion that Turkana County has received for the last 10 years, but instead, we found many stalled projects raising questions on how the funds have been spent,” he said.
The committee directed the Controller of Budget to inspect all the requisitions from the county government to avoid pumping in more money towards grand projects that do not add value to the people of Turkana.
Kajwang wondered why the Nanok’s administration gave preference to the construction of a five-storey county headquarters at more than Sh800 million, yet the money could have been used to drill more than 40 boreholes or construct 10 modern schools or 10 level three hospitals in the county.
Turkana Governor Jeremiah Lomurkai told the committee that he did not find any significant project done by the county when he was elected in September last year, and he was doing his best to remedy the situation.
“The construction of the county headquarters has taken eight years which is far too long, and the official governor’s residence also stalled despite being allocated funds. I support calls by the committee for the EACC to investigate the embezzlement of public funds and arrest those responsible,” said Lomurukai.
When the senators visited the stalled governor’s residence, they were informed that the contractor was paid Sh206 million for putting up the foundation and a structure before leaving the site, after which a new contractor was engaged to complete the project at an additional Sh90 million.
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Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna said there was no way the governor’s residence could consume Sh300 million. He called for action against those who stole money allocated for the project leading to its stalling.
Sifuna regretted that the current governor had to start from scratch on most projects. “The EACC needs to take up the plundering of billions of shillings in Turkana County in the last 10 years because what we have seen here for the few days we have been here, has given devolution a bad name,” said Sifuna.