NYS suppliers in anguish as ministry delays payments

Thursday May 23 2019

NYS suppliers

Samuel Momanyi who claimed his wife died following complications arising from failure to be paid by the NYS after she supplied goods. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

AMINA WAKO
By AMINA WAKO
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Some of the genuine National Youth Service (NYS) contractors have not been paid their dues, the Nation can reveal.

As those who supplied air to NYS eat life with a big spoon, some of the genuine suppliers who delivered building materials remain a forgotten lot.

They supplied materials that were used to transform Kibera, Mathare, Korogocho and Kia Ndutu slums but have nothing to show for it four years down the line.

GOODS AND SERVICES

Records seen by the Nation show the businesspeople delivered construction and building materials, spare parts, uniforms, foodstuff, stationery, and ICT equipment, among others.

The goods and services were delivered during the first phase of youth empowerment programme and the community and street lighting project.

But for all that effort and expenses running into millions of shillings, they have earned death, broken marriages, auctions, evictions, enemies, blacklisting by the banks and other forms of pain.

Those who spoke to the Nation said their only link to NYS business now are documents proving that they delivered goods and services to the government.

According to a report by Auditor-General Edward Ouko, NYS and its parent ministry are yet to pay more than 800 suppliers Sh3 billion.

Cumulatively, the suppliers are demanding Sh11.3 billion in a mix of both fraudulent and genuine claims.

So how did this happen?

In 2014, NYS procured goods and services from various suppliers and contractors under presidential directive in line with government economic stimulus programme for youth and women empowerment, poverty eradication and the five pillars of NYS reform agenda.

FIRST NYS SCANDAL

Suppliers would supply goods and services on the request of NYS staff and later NYS would formalise their contracts, citing urgency and the demand to fulfill the presidential directive.

All was running smoothly until the first NYS scandal in which Sh791 million was stolen in the financial year 2014/2015.

The scandal that saw the then Devolution Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru resign was the beginning of the painful journey in seeking their payments.

But things got worse in 2015 after Ms Waiguru’s office clashed with the then NYS Director-General Nelson Githinji.

Mr Adan Halake was brought in by the ministry and assigned duties previously done by Githinji.

For instance, Mr Halake became the holder of Authority to Incur Expenses (AIE), and was in charge of approving all the payments at the NYS.

The change of the AIE holder brought about confusion and, according to the suppliers, Halake contributed a lot in frustrating genuine suppliers by blocking formalisation of their supplies so that they could claim payments.

RETURNS

It is during this season that the likes of Ngiritas were paid millions of shillings for phantom supplies. 

And the pain started for the suppliers. Some said they had invested everything they had in the hope of getting handsome returns.

This was not to be.

“We are alive because of God's grace.”  That was common thread during Nation interviews with the businesspeople.

Mr Samuel Momanyi said his wife Isabellah Momanyi succumbed to hypertension, diabetes and kidney failure, conditions that got worse after NYS failed to release their money.

The couple from supplied tents and tanks and are demanding Sh700,000 from the government.

“For years, we have been in the dark. No one is telling us what is going on, we are just in hell,” he said.

'MISERY'

For Edwin Mwangi, who is demanding Sh30 million for the supply of construction materials, his life and that of his family has taken a south turn.

“Two years ago, I had to move my children from Riara School to a public school because I could not afford to pay their fees. My children do not deserve this, all because of some greedy people,” he said.

"We moved from Nyayo estate to Kasarani. In a twinkle of an eye, everything in our lives changed.”

Some suppliers have lost family and friends after they failed to repay their loans.

“I am like a witch now, I stay alone because my family members want nothing to do with me after I took money from them and supplied NYS,” narrated said Ms Jacinta Waithera, who is seeking Sh5.5 million for the supply of stationery and ICT equipment, as her eyes welled up.

“It pains me that my family hates me for something which is beyond me.”

HEALTH ISSUES

During the interview with the Nation, two businesswomen removed medicine from their bags and took at different intervals.

"We developed health problems that we were not born with. We have become slaves of antidepressants and sleeping pills," said Ms Maryanne Njambi who is demanding Sh10 Million for the supply of foodstuff.

“We had a colleague of ours who hanged herself last year when auctioneers came to evict her from her home in Karen. She just asked her sister to come for her kids and the following morning when auctioneers came back they found her lifeless body hanging in one of the rooms.”

In their possession were demand letters from the banks and auctioneers following the huge loans they took.

Over the years, the loans have grown beyond their imagination, much less ability to repay, because of the interest.

“Our members have been evicted from their homes and homes auctioned by the banks,” said Mr Denis Munene, the secretary of Suppliers and Contractors Welfare Association.

“They have been blacklisted by CRB. They are on the run from KRA and all this is not their fault. It’s not because they do not want to pay, it’s the circumstances they have found ourselves in.”

GENUINE SUPPLIERS

While there have been signs that the government will pay the genuine suppliers, the process is taking ages.

In late last year, advertisement was placed in local dailies asking all the genuine suppliers to submit their documents for verification.

Those interviewed by the Nation said they delivered the records to Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs Principal Secretary Francis Otieno Owino’s office.

After the verification, a report was done and presented to Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs Cabinet Secretary Margaret Kobia.

But according to Mr Owino, who met with a few of the suppliers on April 1, 2019, the report was returned to the verification committee for amendments.

During the meeting, Mr Owino said the amended report would be ready in a week’s time but no communication has been made to the suppliers to date.

On Wednesday, Mr Owino said the ministry will present a supplementary budget before a Parliamentary committee on Thursday to facilitate payment of pending bills.