Kwale county bosses on spot over stalled projects

Kwale Governor Fatuma Achani receives county insignia from outgoing governor Salim Mvurya after being sworn in on August 25, 2022. [Kelvin Karani, Standard]

Mining CS Salim Mvurya and Kwale Governor Fatuma Achani have come under scrutiny from the Senate County Public Accounts Committee regarding stalled projects valued at more than Sh581 million in Kwale County.

Mvurya, who served as the Kwale governor for 10 years, and Achani, who served as the Deputy Governor during the same duration before assuming the governorship position, were questioned about the governor’s residence.

Despite an allocation of Sh149 million, the residence remains incomplete.

The Auditor General’s report criticised the county government for wasteful expenditure on the construction of the governor’s official residence, highlighting that Kwale residents had not received value for the Sh118.79 million already spent on the project.

“The official governor’s residence in Kwale is already 65 per cent complete. The delay in its completion was caused by a disagreement between the county and the contractor, who insisted on being compensated for the period he was not working.

“The matter has now gone to court, with arbitration currently underway,” Achani said.

Homa Bay Senator Moses Kajwang, who also chairs the committee, expressed concerns that the official governor’s residence’s cost would rise to Sh180 million from the initial Sh149 million due to the delays.

He said the county had initially awarded a one-year contract but faced delays in its execution, leading to a conflict with the contractor.

“The Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) set a ceiling for official governor’s residences across the country at Sh45 million. This committee is questioning whether a governor truly requires a residence worth Sh180 million,” said Kajwang.

Achani told the committee the county had issued a tender for the construction of the governor’s residence in 2018 before the SRC established the Sh45 million ceiling in 2019.

The governor told the committee that, in addition to the official living quarters, the palatial residence includes an office, a social hall, a swimming pool, and living quarters for staff.

This clarification came after Kisii Senator Richard Onyonka raised concerns that the allocated amount was sufficient to build a 15-bedroom house. “In my other life, I am a contractor, and from my experience, the Sh150 million set aside for the construction of the Kwale governor’s official residence is adequate to construct a 15-bedroom mansion. I am wondering whether any governor in Kenya would require such a house,” Onyonka said.

Explanations

Achani, who appeared before the committee in Nairobi, faced difficulties explaining several financial malpractices, including procurement irregularities highlighted in the Auditor General’s report for the financial year ending June 2022.

The committee held Mvurya and Achani accountable for four stalled road projects costing Sh302.8 million and the halted construction of an oncology center at Sh30 million during their tenure as governor and deputy governor, respectively, from 2013 to 2022.

Senator Kajwang also questioned the county’s representation in court, with only four advocates handling 52 cases involving the administration.

Additionally, he raised concerns about the suspicious termination of contracts for various projects despite substantial expenditures, resulting in the wastage of taxpayers’ money.

By AFP 17 hrs ago
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