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Audit report unearths massive corruption in western counties

Saturday January 5 2019

Auditor-General Auditor-General Edward Ouko.

Auditor-General Auditor-General Edward Ouko. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

RUTH MBULA
By RUTH MBULA
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Several counties in western Kenya may have misappropriated billions of shillings set aside for development projects, a good number which remain incomplete years after the expiry of the time set for construction.

Physical verification by the Office of the Auditor-General indicated that some of the projects did not commence while others stalled at the early stages despite money being allocated and paid.

A report from the Auditor-General raises several queries, noting that public money may have been misappropriated through the projects that have turned white elephants.

PUBLIC MONEY

Migori, Busia, Homa Bay, Kisumu, Kisii, Siaya and Vihiga are among the counties which the Auditor-General has put on the spot.

“As required in the constitution, based on the procedures performed, I confirm that public money has not been applied lawfully and in an effective way,” stated the report for the fiscal year 2016/17 dated June 30, 2017.

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In Busia County, the department of health and sanitation for instance made payments totalling Sh44 million to a firm for construction of a maternity and new born unit at Busia County Referral Hospital.

The contract was to be executed in 12 months from June 19, 2014 to June 19, 2015. As at June 30, 2017, the county executive had paid over Sh31 million to the contractor.

However, physical verification conducted two-and-a-half years after expiry of the planned completion date revealed the works stalled at 40 per cent, with no evidence to indicate that the project period was extended.

Mid last year, Governor Sospeter Ojaamong was arrested after the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) approved charges against him and nine others over fraud in the integrated solid waste management services project, in which. Sh20 million was lost.

In Homa Bay, payments included road works worth Sh479 million, which were not done.

VERIFICATION

“Most of the work is yet to be done. It is evident completion of the work may occasion escalation of costs,” says the report.

In Kisumu, construction and civil works payments totalling Sh469 million were not supported by relevant documentary evidence. In Migori, the second phase of the construction of the Kenya Medical Training College totalling Sh21 million was awarded to a local company.

During the year under review, Sh3.9 million was paid to the contractor, but physical verification conducted on December 19, 2017 revealed that the contractor abandoned the site and carried away the materials claiming that he had not been paid.

Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission sleuths recently ransacked the homes and offices of Migori governor Okoth Obado as they sought to get documents that could help in their investigations into alleged misappropriation of Sh2 billion.

In Nyamira, there was delay in two water projects worth Sh657 million. At the time of verification audit in January last year, both projects had not been completed are were behind schedule by more than 13 months.

Kisii, Siaya and Vihiga counties also had similar challenges. Contracts awarded to various firms for water projects worth over Sh100 million faced difficulties in implementation resulting to delays and increased costs.