The recruitment of a managing director for the Lake Basin Development Authority (LBDA) has sparked controversy after a public interest complaint was filed over the multi-million shillings mall.
This came as the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) invited LBDA board members to appear in its Western regional office from Tuesday for “interview and statement recording” over the construction of the controversial Lake Basin Mall in Kanyakwar, Kisumu County.
EACC Western regional boss Ignatius Wekesa said the officials are required to give an account of what they know about the implementation of the project.
"We want the officials to give us information that will enable us get the truth about the project works," Mr Wekesa told the Sunday Nation.
The public complaints on the recent recruitment has prompted the ministry of East African Community and Regional Development to launch investigation into issues raised by Mr Chris Obel in a letter to Principal Secretary Susan Koech.
An internal memo by Dr Koech to Cabinet Secretary (CS) Adan Mohammed dated July 2 calls for investigations on the shortlisting. Dr Koech, confirmed receipt of the complaint and noted that it had been forwarded to the CS for action.
“Yes we got it and I forwarded it to the CS. However, for more information kindly contact the board chairman,” Dr Koech told the Sunday Nation.
Mr Obel had complained to the Ministry and other government agencies, including the Directorate of Criminal Investigation, to probe the shortlisting citing that it was flawed and questions remained on the acting Managing Director’s handling of the Kisumu mall project.
The board members had ranked acting managing director Dr Evans Atera the best with 80.67 per cent. He was followed by Dr Raymond Omollo with 77.25 per cent while Alome Achayo came third with 70 per cent.
Ms Miriam Siwa (68.5), Alfred Busolo Tabu (64.5), Philip Oloo (58.5), Patrick Aywago Nyangweso (53.83), Dr Njogu Kimandu (52.91), Dr Joel Mabonga (50.17), Margaret Achieng’ Auma (48.5) and Richard Isaac Mwangangi (46.83).
Others were former Kisumu County Secretary Humphrey Nakitari (45.33 per cent), James Maganda Gatangwa (44.67 per cent) and Elijah Odondi Kodo (43 per cent).
Board chairman Cavince Odoyo Owidi, however, told the Sunday Nation he was confident the shortlisting and interviews met all the standards.
“The process was above board as all the members were involved and gave marks without any external influence,” Mr Owidi said.
The controversy and complaints come in the wake of fears of a possible auction of the LBDA shopping complex over huge debts running into millions of shillings.
According documents signed by Dr Koech, a total of Sh646 million was inadmissible costs and not provided for in the contract documents and as such could not be paid.
On August 20, 2018, Dr Koech wrote to Solicitor General Ken Ogeto requesting for his opinion on how to handle the issues of the costs resulting from huge interests accrued due to delay in servicing of loans.
Despite the government’s efforts to offset the debts incurred during the construction of the LBDA Mall in Kisumu, the authority still owes third parties huge monies.
“It is true the LBDA still owes millions of shillings to third parties, debts incurred during the construction works. The government is however, putting in efforts to offset these debts,” LBDA board Chairman Mr Owidi told the Sunday Nation.
In its endeavour to deliver on its mandate, LBDA initiated the Lake Basin Mall Complex project in Kisumu.
The works commenced on May 8, 2012 upon signing of the agreement between LBDA and Erdemann Property Limited.
In her letter also copied to Mr Aden, his Treasury counterpart Henry Rotich and Treasury PS Kamau Thugge, Dr Koech says the State department of Planning and Statistics had assigned a finance officer to determine the actual amount payable based on specific ascertained costs incurred by the co-developer.