Arati: Why I will not pay rogue contractors Sh2 billion

Kisii Governor Simba Arati

Kisii Governor Simba Arati said it was unfortunate that Kisii did not have a public cemetery at the moment because selfish people had grabbed the little land that was left.

Photo credit: Dennis Onsongo | Nation Media Group

Kisii Governor Simba Arati has vowed not to pay contractors who are demanding just over Sh2 billion from the county for work they claim to have done under the old regime led by James Ongwae.

The Governor claimed that a number of contractors seeking payment were fraudsters and that many of them had neither supplied goods to the county nor completed road works to merit payment.

"I will not pay contractors who delivered air. Do you expect me to pay people who claim to have done Simba Arati road, for example, but when you look for such a road in Kisii, you don't see anything? Should we pay them?" asked Mr Arati.

Mr Arati said those making the noise should know that the money they want the county to pay for the alleged non-existent roads belongs to the people of Kisii, hence there will be no payments under any circumstances.

"If my child is a fraud, I will deal with him firmly. A fraud is a fraud, even if he is my child," said Arati, metaphorically referring to the allegedly fraudulent contractors.

After taking over Kisii County last year, Mr Arati declared most of the contracts awarded under the previous regime suspect and set up a committee to investigate the veracity of outstanding invoices amounting to over Sh2 billion.

After completing its investigations, the committee recommended that some contractors should be duly paid for their work in the county and directed the new administration to make the payments.

A number of contractors recently met in Nyakoe, Kitutu Chache, where they started raising funds to take legal action against the county for failing to pay them for work they claimed to have done.

However, some contractors who were left out of the payment arrangements claimed that some of the county's senior officials were not following the financial management policy of prioritising the payment of outstanding bills.

One contractor, who requested anonymity for fear of retribution from the county, showed the Nation documents showing that his company had been partially paid for work done under the previous regime.

However, the contractor is among those who were left out of payments made a few months ago and he questioned the criteria used to exclude him from payments, yet his company is among those given a clean bill of health by the Pending Bills Committee.

To ensure what he calls accountability and value for money for the public, Mr Arati recently told a community radio station that he would only award road works to nine contractors in each of the nine constituencies.

This proposal sparked an outcry from local contractors, some of whom accused the governor of allegedly destroying micro-economic development in the county.

But Mr Arati has insisted that the only way to ensure quality work is to reduce the number of contractors and concentrate on a few who will be held accountable if their work is substandard.

His critics, however, claim that no single contractor in Kisii is capable of completing roads in a constituency unless they are national and multinational companies with huge resources and equipment.
[email protected]