What you need to know:
- Contractor Stephen Masinde, popularly known as Steve Kay, and his colleague Ronald Graham Wafula, had locked up the five classrooms in a demand for Sh3.4 million.
Drama unfolded at a school in Bungoma County on Friday after a contractor barred Kimilili MP Didmus Wekesa Barasa from commissioning classes, demanding to be paid Sh3.4 million.
The MP went to Baptist Lurare Primary School in Kamukuywa ward, Kimilili, to open classes built with money from the National Government Constituency Development Fund.
But Mr Barasa found that contractor Stephen Masinde, popularly known as Steve Kay, and his colleague Ronald Graham Wafula, had locked up the five classrooms.
A confrontation ensued, with the MP caught on camera slapping Mr Masinde, and journalists claiming they were roughed up.
The contractor recorded a statement on the events at the Kimilili police station and went to Kimilili hospital, where he was admitted.
The outspoken Tangatanga lawmaker has been commissioning similar projects in the constituency for the past two days.
Mr Masinde, who is also a musician, said the MP asked him to build the classes, a project classified as an emergency, and promised to pay in less than three weeks.
He and his partner said they were to be paid Sh3.4 million and had asked the first-term lawmaker to pay them before proceeding with the day’s events.
They accused Mr Barasa of “dodging” them whenever they ask for the payment.
“When we ask the MP to pay us he says he does not pay contractors half of their money. He says he pays in full and will do so and that we shouldn’t be worried,” Mr Masinde said.
“The MP received the first batch of Sh11 million two weeks ago from the national government but did not pay us. He received the second batch of Sh15 million but once again did not pay us after paying the other contractors. He has now received another Sh33 million and has paid out close to Sh24 million but when we ask for our pay, he takes us round in circles,” he claimed.
He added: “When I call him he abuses me, saying I am disturbing him. I have closed these classes because operations cannot begin before I am paid. Children may cause damage in the classrooms and he may end up refusing to pay me. If he does not pay me I will not open these classes and they won’t be used.”
Mr Masinde also accused the MP of intimidating contractors using police officers, opening classes and handing them over to schools and eventually refusing to pay them.
Mr Wafula, for his part, said they met the required standard in renovating the classrooms, which he said were in a “very poor state”, and they needed to be paid.
“My car, a Subaru, has been taken by auctioneers, from whom I borrowed money to complete this work,” he added.
Reached for comment on the matter, Mr Barasa said: “If you have finished work, you wait for your pay. You do not lock up classes.”
The lawmaker also said the payment was being processed and that Mr Masinde, like other contractors, must be patient.
He noted that he commissioned projects at another school even though the contractor had not been paid fully.
Joel Wamechi, the headteacher of Baptist Lurare Primary, said that since the school was set up in 1973, its facilities had become dilapidated.
The conditions were so bad, he said, that some students were infested with jiggers, so the school resorted to smearing the classrooms with cow dung.
“We are happy with the work the contractor has done. These classrooms will help our pupils to perform better,” he said.
Bungoma County Commissioner Samuel Kimiti said an investigation was opened.