We'll deal firmly with graft, says Kibaki

Wednesday October 27 2010

President Kibaki cuts the tape during the official opening of the Prime Minister's offices at the former Shell and BP House on Harambee Avenue in Nairobi, October 27, 2010. Looking on is Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Speaker of the National Assembly Kenneth Marende. The President said the government will firmly and systematically deal with corruption. STEPHEN MUDIARI

President Kibaki cuts the tape during the official opening of the Prime Minister's offices at the former Shell and BP House on Harambee Avenue in Nairobi, October 27, 2010. Looking on is Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Speaker of the National Assembly Kenneth Marende. The President said the government will firmly and systematically deal with corruption. STEPHEN MUDIARI  

By LUCAS BARASA

President Kibaki has said the government will firmly and systematically deal with corruption and directed its agencies to speedily conclude pending cases.

Speaking when he officially opened the Office of the Prime Minister-more than two and half years since the signing of the National Accord that created the office- The President also termed the grand coalition government a success.

He said the government was committed to accountability in the use and allocation of taxpayer’s funds.

“We must and will firmly and systematically deal with the issues of corruption,” the President said.

He told local contractors to adhere to professionalism and avoid exaggerating costs for the development of country.

The President said huge progress in addressing long-term problems affecting the country identified under Agenda IV of the National Accord.

They include undertaking constitutional, legal and institutional reforms; tackling poverty and inequity; tackling unemployment, particularly among the youth; consolidating national cohesion and unity; undertaking land reforms and addressing transparency, accountability and impunity.

“With the enactment of a new Constitution in particular, a firm foundation for the future stability and development of our country has been set,” the President, said.

He thanked Kenyans for “hard work, commitment and patriotism that has enabled the coalition government to be the success it has been".

The Head of State reached out leaders across the political divide to also show “same level of patriotism and dedication” as the country implements the new Constitution.

The President said the opening of the PM’s office is a step in upholding the National Accord that created the office.

“It underscores the determination of the Grand Coalition Government to respect the provisions and principles that underpinned the accord,” he said.

“To me, the most important issue we set out to achieve is the unity of Kenyans and the efficient delivery of services that will translate into better living standards for our people. I am good to note that we have made good progress.”

He said the new PM’s office would enable its staff to operate efficiently in the supervision and coordination of government functions.

He said the model offices, reflects the new thinking in government in providing officers with a conducive working environment, which also promotes the goals of transparency and integrity.

The PM office, he added, was also in line with government policy of changing of changing its offices from the traditional closed door ones to open plan.

“This is meant to minimise opportunities for corruption and encourage strong work ethics. Above all, the design in meant to encourage interaction and sharing of ideas. It is a model for future government office buildings,” the President said.

Mr Odinga who received President Kibaki at the gate as the Head of State strolled from Harambee House across the road said he felt proud of opening of the office terming the event historic.

“This building is called office of the Prime Minister, but this is temporary as the office is not going to be there after two years but the building will remain as it is a government office. I am sure it will be put into good use,” the PM said.

He said the building was acquired from BP/Shell to create space for government offices as some are housed in rented premises.

He said a number of offices are yet to move for the building to be fully occupied by the government adding that some State offices will also move there.

He said every penny spent on the building was put into good use adding that it was cheaper than Continental House that cost a total of Sh1 billion to purchase and refurbish 10 years ago.

The PM’s office was bought at Sh700 million and another Sh300 million used on refurbishment and furnishing.

Mr Odinga called on local contractors to be disciplined and adhere to ethics.

“Our people are capable if they mean to do it. Foreign contractors have helped bring discipline. What we want is for our roads to be constructed at a cheaper price. If we can bring down the costs we can achieve much more,” Mr Odinga said.

Public Works Minister Chris Obure whose ministry restructured, converted, rehabilitated and refurbished the new PM’s office was happy that it was completed within “time and budget".