Kericho Deputy Governor Fred Kirui and County Secretary Wesley Bor are involved in a blame game over the alleged misuse of Sh14.5 million collected for 77 victims of the Londiani road accident.
This as the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) indicated it has taken statements from at least 10 families of the victims as investigations into how the money was spent began yesterday.
The June 30 accident claimed 53 lives, while 24 people sustained various injuries, with at least five still in hospital.
On July 4, Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua led politicians, government technocrats and members of the public in a fundraising event at Londiani playground in Kipkelion East Constituency, a short distance from the accident site, where Sh13.5 million was raised. The total later rose to Sh14.5 million as the public continued to donate to the planning committee.
Mr Gachagua said at the event that the national government would give Sh300,000 to the families of who lost loved ones while those who were injured would get Sh200,000. This money was separate from that raised by the public.
Yesterday, Dr Bor and Mr Kirui took on each other in separate press conferences in Kericho town as the matter took a new turn. Dr Bor said that of the Sh14.5 million, a total of Sh6.2 million had been paid to the 53 families that lost their loved ones and 24 who sustained various degrees of injuries.
Without giving a breakdown of the expenditure, he revealed that the committee had so far paid out Sh9.3 million. The county secretary said each of the 53 families received Sh90,000 as compensation, totalling Sh4.77 million while the 24 injured people received Sh60,000 each, totalling Sh1.44 million.
Interestingly, the committee allocated Sh300,000 for three motorcycles that were allegedly damaged in the accident, while no allocation was made for those whose stalls were damaged, along with the goods they were selling.
Despite an assurance from Governor Erick Mutai that the county would waive all medical and funeral expenses for the victims, the committee went ahead and paid Sh3.5 million for bills.
Dr Bor has disowned a memo he allegedly wrote and signed detailing the disbursement of the money raised, including what each of the families received from the planning committee comprising county and national government officials.
But in a swift rebuttal, the deputy governor stuck to his guns, saying the memo was legitimate and had been shared with his office by Dr Bor.
Mr Kirui asked Dr Bor and the committee members to step aside while the matter was being investigated.
“I am a public figure and as a deputy governor, I cannot go public with a forged document. I have recorded a statement with the DCI to further prove my point and I challenge anyone with a contrary opinion to counter it with facts,” Mr Kirui said at Kericho police headquarters after recording the statement.
He confirmed that the committee disregarded the position taken publicly by Dr Mutai to waive the victims’ funeral and medical bills and proceeded to pay the money in a suspicious transaction.
Treatment and medication for the victims amounted to Sh2.03 million at Kericho County Referral Hospital and Sh1.53 million at Londiani sub-county hospital, totalling Sh3.57 million
A further Sh2.95 million was spent on tents at Londiani trading centre during Mr Gachagua’s fundraiser (he contributed Sh2 million while President William Ruto donated Sh5 million).
ShSh411,000 was used to pay for a tent at Rays Hotel where another Sh100,000 was spent on lunch for 100 people.
A further Sh423,000 was used by the committee for transport, refreshments, printing and other expenses.
“This answers the question of whether what was circulating on the social media was authentic or not, some of the beneficiaries did not receive the money because they did not provide the required documentation,” Dr Bor said without taking questions from journalists at the press briefing.
“I would like to invite the Deputy Governor (Mr Kirui) to take time out of his busy schedule and come back to the county and see first-hand the progress made in addressing the plight of the Londiani accident victims and other matters,” Dr Bor said.
He was, however, at pains to explain how the committee went ahead and disbursed money to the two hospital despite the governor’s declaration of a waiver.
“During the fundraiser, Dr Mutai promised and waived mortuary and treatment fees for the victims of the Londiani accident. However, we still have critically ill patients undergoing specialised treatment who require further surgeries,” said Dr Bor.
“The cost of treatment and medication continues to this day. Some victims have had their lower limbs amputated and need rehabilitation to resume their normal lives,” he said.