Taxpayers risk losing billions of shillings used in the construction of Hazina Towers, Nairobi, after the management of the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) on Thursday failed to explain why the cost of construction remained the same despite a scale down of its floors.
According to the initial plan, the building was to have 36 floors, built at a cost of Sh6.7 billion. However, NSSF later reduced the floors to 15.
Despite this, the management of the social fund could not tell MPs the new cost, raising queries that the public may lose billions of shillings in the project.
Appearing before the Parliamentary Public Investments Committee, the NSSF management, led by acting chief executive officer Anthony Omerikwa, failed to divulge the new cost despite the contractor being on site and continuing with work.
Committee chairman Abdulswamad Nassir told the NSSF management that should the taxpayer lose money through the project, they would be held personally liable and made to pay back the money.
“This committee will not condone bad management practices by State corporations that lead to loss of taxpayers’ money,” Mr Nassir (Mvita MP) said.
“The management has told us that they do not know the new cost of the building. This committee will not accept such lame explanations,” he said.
“Construction of that building should be stopped and re-tendered so as to save taxpayers the billions of shillings that we are about to lose,” Kiminini MP Chris Wamalwa said.
The MPs also told the Auditor-General to visit the site to ascertain the cost and extent of work done.
Mr Omerikwa said they would sit down as the management and ascertain the new cost after which they would provide the relevant documents to Parliament.
He promised to work with the MPs by providing all the relevant documentation.
“If a decision was made to reduce the floors of the building from 36 to 15, then we expect the initial cost of Sh6.7 billion to reduce by almost half. We don’t expect the cost to remain the same,” Wajir West MP Ahmed Kolosh said.
“Someone is trying to defraud NSSF of billions of money through this project. That is why the management is unable to come out clearly on the cost.
"We also need to know, with the backing of proper documents, the stage at which the board or management decided that they no longer needed 36 floors and settled on 15,” Budalang’i MP Raphael Wanjala said.
Construction of the towers began in June 2013, and was to last 155 weeks, with an expected completion date of July 2016. The Sh6.7 billion contract was given to China Jiangxi International Kenya.