Lobbies seek to block handing over of Ronald Ngala Utalii college

The Ronald Ngala Utalii College in Vipingo, Kilifi County June 27, 2022.

Photo credit: Wachira Mwangi I Nation Media Group

Human rights lobby groups have filed a case seeking to block the handing over of Ronald Ngala Utalii College in Kilifi to the government over alleged corruption in its construction.

In their petition at the High Court in Mombasa, the activists claim building the college was initially budgeted for Sh2 billion but that cost had risen suspiciously to Sh9 billion.

They have sued the Cabinet Secretary for Tourism and Wildlife, Tourism Fund, Mulji Devraj & Brothers Ltd, Baseline Architects Ltd,

Speaker of the National Assembly, Public Investment Committee of the National Assembly and Attorney-General.

They want a permanent injunction issued restraining the contractor from handing over the college to the government or having it inaugurated.

The activists, all from Kilifi County, also want the court to declare that the respondents violated the rule of law by failing to account for public funds released for the construction of the college.

They argue that from the time the tender was awarded, there have been several variations that had the effect of creating loopholes for siphoning public funds.

“The respondents have been varying the project sum without consultation or cabinet approval as is required of such projects,” they argue.

A report from the Auditor-General, they say, indicates that the Tourism Fund has not been remitting financial statements for the college for review and that its management has not provided an analysis of the transfers made by the National Treasury.

They also argue that the audit report indicates that no record of contracts entered into between the Tourism Fund and consultants were provided for audit.

The activists say the Auditor-General’s report also stated that the college had not submitted financial statements for audit, contrary to the provisions of the Public Finance Management Act.

They say that, among other conclusions, the report said that no evidence was provided to confirm that procurement of architectural and other consultancy services was preceded by an advertisement for expression of interest by potential contractors.

“The petitioners contend that the respondents are responsible for the loss of public funds which cannot be accounted for as explained in the auditor’s report,” they argue.

They say that they and other citizens have a fundamental right as taxpayers to be protected from waste of public resources.

“In the conduct of their role as government agencies, the respondents failed to safeguard and ensure public funds are not lost but also prudently used and accounted for,” the activists say.

The case was transferred to the High Court in Malindi for hearing.