Coveted State tenders may not be that lucrative as the government has been put on the spot for failing to pay hundreds of millions of shillings to contractors in the last five years.
Companies involved in a school improvement scheme, partly funded by the African Development Bank, in 2013 say they are yet to get their dues despite many letters and calls to top government officials.
The Education III project was implemented in 350 secondary schools and involved building classrooms, dormitories, laboratories and ablution blocks.
More than 500 contractors won tenders to build the structures.
A businessman who declined to be named told the Nation that he was owed Sh500,000 for his work on a school.
“I finished the work in April 2013 and handed the building to the ministry the following month, expecting to be paid. I have gone up to the office of the ombudsman to no avail,” said the contractor who refused to be named for fear of victimisation.
“The ministry conducted an audit early this year to determine who was owed by the government and how much and we thought we would finally get our dues. Nothing has been forthcoming.”
An Education Ministry official said the government owed contractors Sh177 million.
The entire project, was valued at Sh4.2 billion and 85 per cent of it was funded by AfDB.
“The donors played their part but the government has not completed the payments. Some contractors have had their property auctioned. I know of one who killed himself,” he said.
Though a majority of the buildings were completed, many stalled when the ministry failed to meet its side of the bargain.
Efforts to reach top bureaucrats at the Education Ministry were unsuccessful.
The government has also come under fire for failing to pay contractors awarded tenders to renovate Kenyatta International Convention Centre ahead of the World Trade Organisation summit in 2015.
The contractors have filed complaints at the ombudsman’s office, saying their businesses have been disrupted.
“The government owes us around Sh700 million. I am owed Sh4.3 million for an air conditioning system in the building. Two years down the line, the bill is yet to be settled,” said a contractor who again refused to provide his identity.
Dimension Data Solutions, which was awarded a tender to provide IT services during the conference, went to court and won a Sh182 million payout, which it had said KICC management refused to remit after the conference.
But problems at KICC are far reaching, as its top managers are under investigations for awarding irregular tenders during the summit.
According to Auditor-General Edward Ouko, KICC single sourced and awarded tenders valued at Sh1.4 billion, some of them to phantom companies.
Mr Ouko said just five out of the 17 projects during the WTO summit period were tendered appropriately.
According to director of budget at the National Treasury Francis Anyona, ministries are always advised to clear pending bills at the beginning of every financial year.
In the Public Accounts Committee report on government accounts for 2013/14 fiscal year — the last definitive report of this nature by Parliament — the government had pending bills totalling to Sh16.6 billion.
The Education Ministry topped the list with Sh7.8 billion worth of unpaid bills. Others were Agriculture and Health ministries with Sh2.7 billion and Sh2.1 billion bills respectively.
The report said failure to settle bills in time had serious implications on suppliers and the country’s economy in general.