A delay in the valuation of government houses occupied by police and prison officers plus separation of utility bills has seen the taxpayer continue to fork out hundreds of millions of shillings in allowances each month to officers still being housed by the state.
The amounts in question could run to billions of shillings if one considers the Sh22 billion given to the Ministry of Interior this year for house allowances for the officers.
Last December the government began paying 70,000 of its low-ranking police and prisons officers allowances in a scheme that would have seen them leave police lines and live among the communities they serve.
The plan supposed to save the government Sh2 billion a year that is spent on leasing houses was also intended to generate revenue. This is because officers who decided to stay in the police lines would have paid for housing at market rates.
Seven months later, the officers are not only staying for free in their houses but also receiving allowances. The crux of the matter is that valuation of the houses by the Ministry of Housing, which was supposed to set the rent amounts payable to the state, is yet to happen.
The National Police Service (NPS) seems to have gone slow on the plan or abandoned it altogether after the issue caused friction within its ranks.
“The issue is not about police lines, but the leased houses. You need to look at the matter holistically. All officers earn house allowance; that’s the most important thing, otherwise you are being petty,” Police spokesman Charles Owino said when asked about the stalled plan.
Officers especially from urban areas had vehemently opposed the scheme when it was introduced, saying, the allowances they were receiving were way below what is needed to pay rent. Then Kenya Power declined to separate metres in some stations citing unpaid bills running to hundreds of millions of shillings.
Yesterday Kenya Power head of corporate communications Kevin Sang refused to reveal how much is owed to them by Kenya Prisons and the Kenya Police, citing confidentiality.
“I don’t think it is morally right for us to tell you who owes us,” said Mr Sang.
A spot check by the Nation revealed that houses in a number of stations were yet to have individual metres, meaning taxpayers are still footing electricity bills seven months after they were supposed to stop.