Stalled Sh581m projects haunt Achani, Mvurya |

ENTERTAINMENT

Kwale Governor Fatuma Achani and her predecessor, Salim Mvurya, are on the spot over stalled projects worth more than Sh581 million with the county government battling at least 52 cases in court.

A Senate watchdog committee questioned “suspicious” termination of contracts for the projects, even after millions of shillings was spent on them.

The projects include the construction of a governor’s residence at a cost of Sh149 million, four stalled road works at a cost of Sh302.8 million and construction of an oncology centre at Kwale Sub-County Hospital in which Sh18.1 million had already been paid to the contractor.

Appearing before the Senate County Public Accounts Committee chaired by Homa Bay Senator Moses Kajwang’, Governor Achani was taken to task over financial malpractices and procurement irregularities which were flagged by the Auditor-General, Nancy Gathungu, in the financial year ended June 2022.

Ms Achani, a former deputy governor under Mr Mvurya, who isnow the Mining and Blue Economy Cabinet Secretary, was at pains to explain why the projects were terminated almost at the same time and re-advertised and certain contractors given preference.

Ms Gathungu faulted the county government for wasteful expenditure on the governor’s official house as Kwale residents did not get value for money on the Sh118.79 million already spent on the project.

A contract sum of Sh149 million was awarded for the project in March 2018 but as of November 2022, only roofing had been completed.

Governor Achani said the project is 65 percent complete but has been delayed because of a court case.

“The contractor wanted to be paid an amount we could not agree on for the duration he was not working. He has taken us to court. There is a arbitration process underway” said Ms Achani.

The county’s Chief Finance Officer, Mr Alex Onduko, said the contractor wants payment despite receiving a default notice.

Mr Onduko said they had paid the contractor Sh118.79 million for work done, which also compensated for idle labour. However, he wants four percent of the contract sum (Sh5.96 million) to go towards idle labour and equipment charge.

“This is where we are stuck. The Institute of Arbitrators had appointed an arbitrator but the contrator rejected him. We are waiting for another one to be appointed,” Mr Onduko said.

But Senator Kajwang’ said the project will now cost Sh180 million instead of the initial Sh149 million because of the delays.

“You gave a contract of one year, but you delayed its execution and that is why the contractor is taking you to court. We urge you to sort out the problems and ensure the people of Kwale get value for their money,” he said.

“How much should a governor’s residence cost? Sh150 million can build a 15-bedroom house. Is that really needed?” Posed Kisii Senator Richard Onyonka.

The Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) in May 2019 set a ceiling of Sh45 million for the county government for building of the governor’ s house. But Mr Onduko said the tendering process was done in March 2018 before the SRC ceiling was set.

The county flagship project of tarmacking the 6.3km Kona Ya Musa-Mabokoni-Kona Ya Masai Road in Ukunda at a cost of Sh277.9 million also stalled.

Governor Achani said the contract was terminated in November 2021 after the contractor failed to resume work. Another stalled project is the Sh5.9 million gravelling of the Checkpoint at Msulwa in Kubo South and Cabro-paving of the Sokoni-Tiwi rural health centre road at a cost of Sh12.29 million.

The committee fingered Governor Achani’s administration for failing to do due diligence.

“Some of these contracts were terminated ‘Kangaroo style’. Now you are in court after spending millions. What is so special about Lanex Holdings to get two contracts?” Mr Kajwang asked.

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