County governments are fleecing taxpayers of billions of shillings by taking credit for projects carried out by the national government, a parliamentary committee was told on Wednesday.
Infrastructure Principal Secretary Julius Korir told the National Assembly Committee on Transport and Housing that devolved units normally claim ownership of road projects done by Kenya Urban Roads Authority (Kura), and hoodwink the public into believing that they did the work.
Mr Korir said the practice is common, with county governments mounting huge billboards claiming the projects.
He said that governors move in after Kura has left the site. They then commission the roads without the knowledge of the national government.
This leads to double allocation of millions of shillings by both Kura and county governments for the same project.
A case in point is Bomet County where the governor claimed to have re-carpeted Kapkwer-Kapsangaru and other roads in the town despite the projects having been funded by the national government through Kura.
“The governor moved and commissioned the roads done by Kura without the knowledge of the national government,” Mr Korir told the committee.
“It is immoral for someone to claim something that he did not do. There is an oversight problem in county governments.”
Bomet Central MP Ronald Tonui raised the issue by asking the PS whether he was aware that the county government was claiming to have done the projects.
Under the law, Kura has the core mandate of managing, developing, rehabilitating and maintaining national urban trunk roads.
Committee chairman David Pkosing told Kura to involve area MPs when undertaking the projects. He said this will deter governors from taking credit for the ventures.
“Some of these projects are claimed by governors for political reasons. There is a risk of double allocation of resources by both the national and the county governments to the disadvantage of the people,” Mr Pkosing said.
He told the agency to publicise all their projects and engage residents in civic education, so that they can know who is responsible for the development.
Mr Pkosing said the same practice was widespread in his constituency, but he told off the governor.
“In my constituency Kura was doing some roads but the governor was running around telling people that they were his project. I moved in and stopped it,” Mr Pkosing said.
The lawmakers however turned the heat on Kura officials for being secretive, thereby raising the possibility that they could be working with county bosses to swindle taxpayers of millions of shillings.
“Why should Kura be secretive about projects they are doing? We tend to believe that they give tenders to counties which pay them back in return,” Mr Tonui claimed.
Nyatike MP Tom Odege said that despite Kura getting billions in allocation each financial year, there was little to show for it in constituencies.
“We have a lot of reservations about Kura as their projects are hardly known and nobody knows where the money allocated goes,” Mr Odege said.