Bomet bows to pressure to demolish shoddy Sh8.4 million bridge

Roads executive Mr Philip Sawek says no money was lost as the contractor was not paid.

The Sh8.4 million bridge set for demolition by the Bomet county government, which has bowed to pressure by members of the public who have protested against the shoddy work, August 30, 2018. PHOTO | VITALIS KIMUTAI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

IN SUMMARY

  • Tender documents indicate that the bridge, at Chepkositonik village in Merigi ward, was allocated Sh8,457,560.
  • The move is seen as an attempt to avert a push by residents for the EACC to investigate the matter and take action to curb loss of public funds.
  • Mr Sawek sought to clarify that no money had been advanced to Triple Tie Investment Company which won the tender to construct the bridge.
  • The contractor has six months to deliver the project, December 17 being the expected date of handover to the client.

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Bomet county has bowed to sustained public pressure to demolish a Sh8.4 million bridge built in a record fourteen days.

The structure, which looks like a culvert, is 4.5 metres long and three metres wide and was built on top of a footpath constructed in the early 1960s by the colonial government.

CRISIS MEETING

Tender documents seen by The Nation indicate that the bridge, at Chepkositonik village in Merigi ward of Bomet East sub-county, was to be nine metres long and 6.63 metres wide and was allocated Sh8,457,560.

The decision to bring down the structure was reached on Wednesday at a crisis meeting convened by Governor Joyce Laboso to address the controversy on shoddy work by contractors under her administration's watch.

Deputy Governor Dr Hillary Barchok, County Secretary Mrs Evalyne Rono and County Executive in charge of Roads Mr Philip Sawek are said to have attended the meeting at the Governor's office.

"I wish to announce to the public that Sukutek-Chepkositonik bridge, which has been the centre of controversy in the last few days, will be demolished at the contractor's cost," Mr Sawek told the press at the county headquarters after the meeting on Wednesday evening.

The move is seen as an attempt to avert a push by residents for the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) to investigate the matter and take action to curb loss of public funds.

NO MONEY LOST

The county also sought to clarify that no money had been advanced to Triple Tie Investment Company which won the tender to construct the bridge.

"We have not lost any money as the contractor has not been paid for the shoddy work. We have neither inspected nor certified the bridge as having met standards" said Mr Sawek.

His position was in sharp contrast with his earlier assertion that residents were blowing the matter out of proportion and should let the contractor complete the project.

"I am personally satisfied with the work done by the contractor who should be left to undertake the project as it is only three months since he took possession of the site after winning the tender," he told the press at the weekend following a demonstration.

Documents at the road department s show that the project commencement date was June 18 and that the contractor was to put up a temporary foot bridge to bypass traffic but that this was not done.

RECORD 14 DAYS

The company also failed to grade and gravel approach roads on both sides to the bridge, erect a sign and carry out HIV/Aids awareness in the area as required.

"The contractor delivered the project in 14 days without approvals. We have not gone to the site for inspection," said Mr Victor Koech, the Chief Officer of the roads department.

In the tender documents, the contractor has six months to deliver the project, December 17 being the expected date of handover to the client - Bomet.

The contractor also did not obtain an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) licence from the National Environmental Management Authority (Nema) yet that is a requirement in law.

Members of the public have, for the last week, piled pressure for the county to account for the money used in the construction.

"We are calling on the EACC and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to probe the tendering process and take action against those found culpable," Mr William Koech, a resident, said.

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