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Bungoma Governor Wangamati questioned over ‘unjustifiable expenditure’

By John Shilitsa | May 14th 2021
Bungoma Governor Wycliffe Wangamati when he appeared before the County Public Accounts and Investment committee of the Senate led by Migori Senator Achilo Ayako at Invest and Grow Sacco Plaza in Kakamega on May 12, 2021. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

Bungoma Governor Wycliffe Wangamati was on Wednesday put to task to explain the use of millions of shillings said to have been spent on irregularly acquired services. 

Wangamati, who appeared before the County Public Accounts and Investment Committee at Invest and Grow Sacco Plaza in Kakamega town, could not explain why over Sh59 million was used on legal services said to have irregularly sourced.  

It also emerged that another Sh116 million, in county government funds, was used to fuel private vehicles whose ownership could not be established.

At the same time, the county has indicated that another Sh12 million was spent on air travel. While the 15 county officials said to have used the money are authorised to travel by air, there was no evidence they actually travelled.  The committee chaired by Migori Senator Ochillo Ayacko also put Wangamati to task over his failure to submit the county government’s revenue returns to the Auditor General on time and even when he finally did, he did not attach the necessary supporting documents. 

“Your audited accounts report was transmitted to you a couple of months ago meaning you had sufficient time to prepare your responses and attach supporting documentation,” Ayacko said noting that the governor delivered some of the documents needed during Wednesday’s session.

But the county chief defended himself saying the delay was caused by a lack of approved template required for the preparation of the revenue returns statement.

He said he only received the template one and half month ago and maintained the time he had was not sufficient to prepare the revenue returns as expected. He admitted that there were challenges and promised action against any county official involved in any irregularities. 

Wangamati said he is also putting in place measures to seal any loopholes through which revenue is lost.

“About the use of private vehicles, we inherited that problem from the previous administration. I had to use a private car until recently when I was bought one by the county government,” said the governor.

Wangamati said those who supply the county government with fuel are under instruction to ensure they capture details of the vehicles being fueled to accountability.

“We are also working with the suppliers to introduce fuel cards so no unauthorised vehicle is fueled with county government funds.”

Isiolo Senator Fatuma Dullo, Bomet’s Christopher Langat and Nominated Senator Mercy Chebeni insisted that the county government provides details of all private vehicles fueled using public and their names of owners.

They also asked the governor to provide proof of competitive bidding while hiring the private vehicles as well as when settling on fuel suppliers and lawyers who offered legal services to the county government.

“Many counties have lost a lot of money in legal services even where some of the cases could have been resolved out of court. We would like to know the nature and magnitude of the cases to justify the huge sums of money used,” said Dr Langat.

The team gave the county government two weeks to provide details of the vehicles it fueled to the Auditor General for verification.

Governors Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega) and Patrick Khaemba of Trans Nzoia skipped the sittings on Monday and Tuesday respectively.

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