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Scandal of taxpayer billions locked in stalled projects

Monday November 18 2019

JUBILEE DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS

This image taken on November 11, 2019 shows the site where Ruring'u stadium is to be built. The project stalled. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

NATION TEAM
By NATION TEAM
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President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee administration is on the spot over multibillion-shilling projects it has launched but which have stalled since it came to power in 2013.

A Nation survey unearthed numerous projects that are incomplete, with some only bearing the commissioning plaque.

President Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto campaigned on a platform of infrastructural development, but a split in the Jubilee Party has hurt the camaraderie and good working relationship that the two enjoyed during their campaigns and in their first term in office.

While President Kenyatta has called for a stop to launching new projects until previous ones are completed, DP Ruto has continued to initiate new ones.

Some government ministries have accused the DP of launching unplanned projects.

In his forays in Kisii, for instance, the DP pledged new projects even as the ones the government had started earlier remain incomplete, stalled or just unfulfilled.

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VOTE-HUNTING

The Gusii region, comprising Kisii and Nyamira counties, is of particular interest to DP Ruto given its swing-vote status in the national political arithmetic, with over one million votes up for grabs.

Key among unfulfilled projects in the region is a number of Kenya Medical Training College campuses that the DP laid foundation stones for but whose construction is yet to take off.

In October 2018, the DP laid the foundation stone for the Bomachoge Chache campus, whose construction has not started.

On September, 2016, the DP laid the foundation stone for the medical college’s Nyaribari Chache campus in Kisii County.

He also pledged Sh100 million towards the upgrading of Keroka Hospital and construction of the controversial Sh5 billion Bonyunyu Dam. The projects remain a pipe dream.

In Kitutu Masaba, Nyamira County, the DP commissioned the Kemera-Kiendege-Eberege- Gachuba-Keumbu road last year but it has stalled.

The Kemera-Magombo-Amabuko road has similarly stalled. In Bobasi, construction of a sports academy at Nyachogochogo is yet to start.

Mr Ruto had announced plans to build the facility during his visit in the area last year.

WATER SUPPLY

About a year ago, residents of Nyakoora in Kisii County were elated when the DP launched the Nyakoora water project, which, he said, would help ease a biting shortage.

“Water was only pumped for about two hours. It seems the DP came and left with it because the taps are now dry,” village elder Charles Mokaya said.

A source confided to the Nation that a water bowser was seen in the area the night before the project was launched.

“It drained the water into another tank near the project. This is where the water that lasted for two hours came from,” said the source, who declined to be named for fear of reprisals from the DP’s supporters.

On June 7, the DP launched the Lower Nzoia Irrigation Project in Siaya and Busia counties. Line ministries said the whole project was ill-advised.

Water Principal Secretary Joseph Irungu said the ministry was not aware of the DP’s plans.

“Had I been asked, I would have said we hold on as we had not compensated landowners in Siaya, and it was not advisable to go ahead with the launch,” Mr Irungu told a parliamentary committee.

ROAD WORKS

In Meru and Tharaka-Nithi counties, several projects launched years ago are yet to materialise, with residents resorting to protests. Most of the projects started in 2016.

In Tharaka-Nithi, the tarmacking of the 28km Chuka-Kaareni road that connects Chuka to the county headquarters in Kathwana was launched in 2014.

It was to be completed in March 2018 but only six kilometres have been tarmacked and work has stalled.

Tarmacking the stalled 23km Kirubia-Kambandi-Kairini road, which started in 2018, has stalled with only eight kilometres done.

Construction of the Keria-Magutuni road was launched by DP Ruto in July 2018 but work is yet to start and the road is now impassable.

Additionally, work on the Marima-Weru-Iriga-Mutindwa road that started in 2017 has stalled halfway.

Construction of the Sh384 million Kirubia Stadium began in 2016 and was to be completed in 2017 but has stalled.

President Kenyatta launched construction of the Meru Town-Mpuri-Kithaku-Katheri, Kithurine-Kariene-Kaguma/Gaitu-Giaki (Sh1.8 billion), and Kunene-Kagaene-Miomponi (Sh1.1billion) roads in 2017.

AIRSTRIP

Although contractors are on the sites, work is moving at a snail’s pace, with the Kunene-Kagaene-Miomponi road attracting protests from locals.

However, work on the Kisima-Kibirichia-Kiirua-Ruiri (Sh1.7 billion) and Kangeta-Laare (Sh650 million) roads, whose construction started at the same time, is almost complete.

Although the Meru-Ciakariga road, which was launched six years ago, is nearing completion, residents have protested several times, complaining over the delay.

While the presidency claims that the Kingirwa Irrigation project in Tigania West is 100 per cent complete, farmers are yet to get a single drop since it was completed three years ago.

The project that cost Sh152 million was launched in 2016 and was to be completed by the end of the same year.

A similar fate has befallen the Mwithanga Irrigation scheme, which started in 2016 at a cost of Sh47 million.

And in Nyeri, nothing can match the excitement that came with the launch of the upgrading of the Nyaribo airstrip late last year.

On November 1, 2018, President Kenyatta launched construction of a terminal and upgrades of the runway.

FOOD SECURITY

This came after Governor Mutahi Kahiga landed at the airstrip with the inaugural commercial flight on October 6, 2018.

Also on board were Deputy Governor Carol Karugu, ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru, Lands Principal Secretary Nicholas Muraguri and Nyeri MP Ngunjiri Wambugu

The inaugural flight was to be the first of many that would bring a change to the dormant town and open it up to Nairobi and the rest of the country.

Travellers would take less than 25 minutes to fly to the capital compared with the three-hour journey by road.

The President said the upgrade would be completed in two months but a year later, only the plaque unveiled by the President remains.

In Kirinyaga, the Sh20billion Thiba Dam project meant to boost rice production in the Mwea Irrigation Scheme has also stalled due to lack of money.

All 600 workers were sent home after the company awarded the tender to build the dam said it had no money to pay its employees.

The dam is one of the ruling Jubilee Party’s flagship projects officially launched by President Kenyatta on November 23, 2017.

CONTRACTORS BLAMED

While launching the project, the President directed that the dam be built and completed within the stipulated time.

When DP Ruto visited the region recently, he revealed that 50 per cent of the project had been completed and told residents to be patient.

The Sh1.5 billion Kutus-Githure road project is also yet to be completed five years after it was launched. Its construction started in 2015 but only a few kilometres have been done.

The work was first allocated to a local contractor, whose tender was later cancelled due to inefficiency.

When Mr Ruto recently visited the region, he accused the contractor of incompetence and asserted that the government would not allow him to go ahead with the work.

The project is now being undertaken by a Chinese contractor, who is doing a good job, said Gichugu MP Gichimu Githinji.

The road passes through rich agricultural areas and residents had been complaining about its pathetic state.

PROTESTS

In 2017, farmers took to the streets of Kianyaga, accusing the government of awarding the contract to a lazy contractor.

They barricaded the streets with rocks, but riot police intervened to restore calm.

They said the road became impassable during rainy seasons and they experience a lot of problems ferrying their produce to markets.

“Our farm produce rots in the farms because of transport issues. The road is really bad and we are demanding that the current contractor ensure that the project is completed within the shortest time possible,” said resident Joseph Kiura.

Reporting by Ruth Mbula, Alex Njeru, Regina Kinogu, George Munene and David Muchui