The emerging details over the state of Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) are shocking and call for action. Auditor-General Nancy Gathungu has revealed that this premier conferencing facility is in dire straits. It is heavily indebted and risks being auctioned.
KICC has a cumulative debt of more than Sh1.3 billion. It owes Kenya Revenue Authority Sh450 million in unpaid taxes. Other supplies are owed a collective sum of Sh928 million. Some of these debts were incurred several years ago.
Paradoxically, the facility is owed more than Sh620 million in unpaid rents and services. Among the defaulters are government departments and Parliament, who, however, apparently have no record of what they owe KICC — another red flag.
Ms Gathungu further revealed that KICC has undervalued its assets — which is curious because that exposes it to manipulation. Separately, this matter of valuation has to be addressed.
The deplorable situation at KICC raises fundamental questions about its management and future. Does it have suitable and qualified individuals in its management and other key positions? How does it manage its affairs? How come institutions and individuals are allowed to accumulate huge debts without follow-up? Has KICC been cushioned by the government against extraneous interference?
This kind of mess was recorded under the Kanu regime, when the then-ruling party appropriated the facility to itself. That was reversed under the National Rainbow Coalition. Henceforth, there was no reason for KICC management to falter.
KICC is a historic and symbolic feature of this nation. It has great potential to generate huge incomes. Its strategic location, history, facilities and expansiveness gives it an edge over others. As a government facility, KICC has a captive market.
The government must take quick and appropriate actions to save KICC — starting with an administrative shake-up and reorganisation of its operations. The authorities should clean KICC’s books and collect all revenues owed to it.