Financial challenges plague Lake Basin Mall in Kisumu

Members of the National Assembly's Regional Development Committee, inspect Lake Basin Mall in Kisumu with Lake Basin Development Authority officials. [Eric Abuga, Standard]

The Lake Basin Mall in Kisumu City is struggling with an unpaid loan of Sh 4.4 billion, inclusive of penalties and interest.

The mall, which currently has a 30 per cent occupation, was the focus of a visit by the National Assembly Departmental Committee on Regional Development. 

The Committee, led by Vice Chair Mary Wamaua, is carrying out its oversight role by inspecting government projects managed by the Lake Basin Development Authority (LBDA).

The mall, initiated on August 7, 2013, is a revenue-generating venture aimed at uplifting the locals’ living standards through employment opportunities and providing a business avenue.

LBDA Managing Director, CPA Wycliffe Ochiaga, informed the Committee that the mall was completed and handed over to LBDA in April 2016.

 “The loan facility for the project remains unpaid after the handover and continued to accrue interest and penalties leading to LBDA negotiating with the Bank to halt accruing of interest and penalties on the project. The authority received Sh 2 billion between Financial Year 2016/17 and Financial Year 2017/18 through the ministry of devolution,” said Ochiaga.

The Committee challenged the LBDA Management to enhance marketing and publicity strategies to advertise the project.

 “I challenge your marketing and publicity teams to enhance advertisement of the premises and look for other lucrative ways including lowering rent rates to attract customers,” said Wamaua.

Members echoed her sentiments, suggesting that situating a public facility like Huduma Center at the mall would attract more visitors.

However, the LBDA team cited accessibility challenges due to poor road infrastructure linked to the mall.

The Committee also visited other projects managed by LBDA, including the Nyakoe Market in Kisii County, the Rice Milling Plant, and the Fingerlings Multiplication Project both in Kisumu.

In Kisii, LBDA noted that they had completed the construction of phase one on the Sh 300 million Nyakoe market, with a total of Sh 142 million spent on the construction.

At Kabuchai Constituency, the Committee launched the St. Joseph Nalondo Girls’ and Community Water Project, a drought mitigation measure expected to benefit over 1,200 learners and more than 4000 households.

“As per the hydrogeological survey report, the output of the project is expected to yield up to 8,000 Litres per hour; a yield sufficient to solve the water problem issues in the location,” said  Ochiaga.

 The Committee’s visit concluded with an inspection of the stalled Kisumu International Convention Center, managed by the state department for devolution.

Maurice Ogolla, representing Principal Secretary Devolution, explained that the project was inactive due to a lack of funds and unpaid contractors.

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