Judiciary might have wasted Sh600m for courts – Report

Wednesday March 18 2020
courts-pic

Justice Tower court building in Mombasa. The Judiciary might have wasted up to Sh600 million through blunders in the construction of courts across the country, according to the latest report of the Auditor-General. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By JOHN NGIRACHU

The Judiciary might have wasted up to Sh600 million through blunders in the construction of courts across the country, according to the latest report of the Auditor-General.

The report details instances in Mombasa, Narok, Lodwar and Embu, where questions arose after more than Sh621 million was spent construct or refurbish court buildings.

The report says that as much as the Judiciary endeavoured to take justice closer to the people by putting up court buildings, the process was not smooth and money could have been wasted and the original goal not accomplished.

In Mombasa, the Judiciary awarded Damtax Enterprises a contract in August 2014 to refurbish the building that houses the court.

Later that month, the contractor wrote to the Judiciary, saying that the contracted amount of Sh29 million was wrong, and should actually have been Sh54.7 million, going by the right bill of quantities.

NO EXPLANATION

No explanation was given on how an error of that magnitude could have occurred.

Auditors also questioned why the contractor was allowed to get on site more than three months after the contract was signed. Six months after the job started, the county government complained that the contractor was performing poorly.

Auditors confirmed that the works were, indeed, of poor quality.

The contractor would in September 2015 ask for an extension of the contract, but by the time auditors went there in November 2016, he was still refurbishing the building.

The Judiciary did not explain the increase in the contract’s cost.

VALUE FOR MONEY

Because of all these issues, Auditor-General Edward Ouko reported, he could not confirm whether there was value for money in the projects.

In Narok, a contractor was given a job to construct the buildings at a cost of Sh24.9 million in August 2007.

It was to be done in a year, but the contractor abandoned the site and the Sh24.9 million is considered lost.

NEW TENDER

A new tender was awarded in September 2015 at a cost Sh65.1 million, but when auditors went there, no work was ongoing. A separate contract to drill a borehole at a cost of Sh6.5 million was yet to be completed.

“In the circumstances, the propriety and value-for-money of the expenditure of Sh90.2 million incurred on refurbishment of Narok Law Courts could not be confirmed,” Mr Ouko reported.

In Lodwar, the Judiciary had planned to spend Sh814.9 million on the court building from September 2013 to April 2015. But the job stalled at 27 percent, with Sh124.5 million paid, and the Judiciary could not explain to the auditors how the job was awarded and measures taken against the contractor for failure to meet contractual obligations.

A similar project in Embu also ran into trouble. Auditors questioned the payment of the first Sh13 million of the Sh229.3-million contract, the value of some Sh8 million spent on a generator and Sh13.5 million paid for lifts that were yet to be delivered 11 months after they were bought. The Judiciary had also not secured a title deed for the land.

The report will be scrutinised by the Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly.