What you need to know:
- Kisii Governor Simba Arati revealed that the public could be losing tens of millions of shillings every month through ghost drivers and fake insurance coverage.
- EACC chief executive Twalib Mbarak said the agency has taken up the matter and that those found culpable will be dealt with under the law.
- Officers from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations and Traffic department are helping in the audit.
The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) is investigating allegations of ghost workers and fraud in the procurement of motor vehicle insurance in Kisii County.
EACC chief executive Twalib Mbarak said the agency has taken up the matter and that those found culpable will be dealt with under the law.
“EACC expects the incoming governors and their administrations to cooperate and give us details of these emerging corruption scams to inform our interventions,” said Mr Mbarak.
“We hope that they will not fall prey to any temptations to run down their counties like some of their predecessors."
He urged incoming governors to strengthen accountability systems to seal all loopholes that permit embezzlement of public funds and other malpractices.
"While EACC will continue to enforce the law, the Commission expects the governors to strengthen internal controls in public procurement, capital project management, recruitment of staff and payment of pending bills. These are some of the high corruption risk areas," he said.
The move by the EACC followed revelations by newly elected Kisii Governor Simba Arati that the public could be losing tens of millions of shillings every month through ghost drivers and fake insurance covers.
Mr Arati disclosed that though Kisii is a small region, dozens of alleged ghost drivers were drawing salaries, leading to the loss of over five million shillings every month.
On Thursday, the governor led an audit of the drivers and vehicles at the Gusii stadium, with serious revelations that most county vehicles, including ambulances, are not insured though millions of shillings were set aside for that purpose.
Notably, most drivers did not have valid driving licences though money was set aside for the renewal of the crucial documents.
Officers from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations and Traffic department are helping in the audit.
At another meeting with drivers at the Kisii Agricultural Training Centre on Tuesday evening, Mr Arati said at least 256, including ghost ones, have been drawing salaries without having any motor vehicle to drive.
The governor was shocked to learn that some county senior employees conspired with motor vehicle insurance companies to procure third-party insurance coverage for county vehicles but allegedly billed the county for comprehensive coverage.
“I want to thank you for making it here. I know I expected to see 200 drivers. I am sure the chief officers said we have 206 drivers. In my record, it shows that there are 256 and I do not know where over 50 were taken,” Mr Arati said.
He wondered how only 82 vehicles in the county can be driven by 256 drivers.
“Surprisingly, there are only 82 vehicles in operation for almost a year now … Almost over a year, 82 vehicles against 256 drivers … It’s a sickening message. I wanted to see those drivers against the 82 vehicles!” he exclaimed.
He said the majority of county vehicles were grounded because of mechanical problems.
Mr Arati was also exasperated to learn that even ambulances were not properly insured and demanded a full explanation from senior county officials where the millions of shillings spent on alleged comprehensive insurance were going.
“Insurances that you guys have on those vehicles, is it comprehensive or third-party coverage? Please raise your hands. Listen, I am the governor. You should fear no one but me because those that you fear have no powers exceeding my powers. I want to see all the 82 vehicles by Thursday 11 am,” demanded Mr Arati.
The governor warned that some people would go to jail unless there was full disclosure on the extent of theft of public money, stating that some of the purported drivers were also employed full-time elsewhere.
“Those 256 drivers draw salaries that should be directed toward the development of the county. The information which I have is that the county officials have been procuring comprehensive coverage, "Mr Arati said.
“However, the vehicles are given third-party covers. What that means is that the driver and everyone else driving in those vehicles is not covered in case of an accident.”
The governor expressed frustration at the extrajudicial manner that public affairs were being handled in Kisii by civil servants.
“You know, people have been operating this county as if Kisii is not part of Kenya. Kisii County is sick and worse than lawless Somalia. At least if we were within the territory of Somalia, one can understand,” he said.
“Someone has to go to prison. We are not going to make jokes here. This money could have been spent on rebuilding a dilapidated health centre I saw at Kiobegi in Bobasi.”
The youthful politician, who took over from Mr James Ongwae, has been on a familiarisation tour of the county.
In the last few days, he has come across what he described as disgusting cases of gross malfeasance.
During his meeting, the governor was informed by some employees that senior officials at the county treasury processed and pocketed their per diem reimbursements for the past 10 years and no one had the guts to ask any questions.