On November 25, 2015 when Pope Francis was on his first visit to Kenya, unbeknown to most people, a group of National Youth Service suppliers had camped at State House gates Nairobi hoping to catch a glimpse of President Uhuru Kenyatta. They were unsuccessful.
They tried again on September 15 last year but this time at Sagana State Lodge as the Head of State was meeting Mt Kenya leaders.
Once again, they were unsuccessful. They have written numerous letters to President Kenyatta and First Lady Margaret Kenyatta and they are yet to receive a reply.
The Nation sat down with some of them this week and heard horror stories of auctions, evictions, blacklisting by banks, broken marriages and even deaths, all related to unpaid-for supplies to the NYS.
Since 2015, they have not been paid. All they have are promises, hopes and faith as guiding light on a journey whose end they can’t foretell.
“Your excellency, sir, the matter has aggravated greatly. This has sadly and deeply affected our finances, health and family and more thus causing physical and psychological trauma to wananchi all too innocent. We, therefore, Sir, are left with no alternative but to seek your guidance and counsel on these issues which are unbearable, Mr President,” reads a letter written on 25th September 2015.
Another one written to the First Lady reads in part, “Madam First Lady, we have, through deep thought and consultations, decided to seek your help in seeking the ear of our President. We hereby beseech you Madam First Lady to plead with H.E. the President to create a few minutes in his busy schedule to listen to the cry of the people who ensured all his projects from Kibera to the counties moved on smoothly and in good time. We would beg to have his audience before the next phase of the projects begins.” The letter was written on January 7, 2017.
Despite their numerous pleas, the suppliers said, for the three years she was the Cabinet Secretary at the ministry, Mrs Sicily Kariuki did not meet them. On the other hand, PS Lilian Mbogo-Omollo met them a few times and offered promises and hope.
They said that since 2015, five verification committees of pending bills have been established and companies cleared for payments are yet to be paid.
They said a particular senior procurement officer has been condescending to them every time they sought their payments, telling them “sitaki kuona nyinyi wamama hapa” when they turn up to ask for their payments.
The Nation has independently established that the same official was a key cog in siphoning money using ghost companies.
Here are some of their stories. One supplier said he has already received a notice of auction from his bank unless he clears his loan in the coming weeks. Their real names have been withheld at their request to avoid jeopardising their relationship with NYS officials.
I supplied building materials in 2014 and 2015. I had to take three loans to ensure I deliver all the materials in time as ordered. My materials were used in Kibra, Mathare and also Kiambu projects.
To keep afloat, I was forced to sell my plots to service that loan. My life changed dramatically as I had to scale back on my plans and, of late, the doctor has been advising me to take bed rest. It has been a hectic period.
I supplied toners and cartridges in 2015. I had taken a loan and I was to be paid Sh1.5 million.
Up to today I have never been paid. I have four children and a wife. I used to live in a two bedroom house, now I have scaled down to a one bedroom. The bank is on my back and I have no one to run to.
I supplied printers in 2015. I was expecting Sh12 million and I had to sell most of my property to ensure my house was not auctioned. I had also supplied building materials to several constituencies, and all these payments are pending. Every time I go to NYS, I am met with rude remarks.
I supplied container clinics. Some were even commissioned by First Lady Maraget Kenyatta. I am owed Sh9 million from 2014. I had a loan which I had to service using other means. After verification process, my company was designated to be paid but nothing has come out of the promises yet.
I supplied equipment for aiding NYS officers in doing artificial insemination. They first sought samples and after eight months they finally gave us an LPO. When we delivered they refused to accept the equipment for two months. Suddenly, we were told that Deputy President William Ruto was to launch the equipment and we were supposed to deliver them. NYS procurement office was very hostile to us and up today we are yet to be paid since in 2015.