Lamu County is still grappling with incomplete State projects worth over Sh1 billion.
Some of the projects were expected to have been completed over five years ago while others were set to be ready some months back. They are either under construction or were abandoned or forgotten.
Among them is a Sh200 million hospital upgrade.
Of the Sh200 million issued by the national government in 2017, Sh100 million was to set up an intensive care unit (ICU), an accident and emergency unit, a modern theatre and a renal unit at King Fahad County Referral Hospital.
The remaining Sh100 million was for upgrades at two key sub-county hospitals in Lamu so they could attain Level Four status.
They include Mpeketoni hospital (Lamu West) and Faza (Lamu East).
The cash was meant for a modern maternity and children's wing at Mpeketoni and an outpatient ward and improving general infrastructure at Faza.
All the construction was expected to be completed in 12 months.
Five years down the line, there is no single functional ICU in the county.
At Mpeketoni hospital, work on the maternity and children's wing stalled for several months after the previous contractor allegedly embezzled the money.
In a recent interview with Nation.Africa, Lamu County Health executive Anne Gathoni said the work had to be contracted afresh.
"Work is currently ongoing for the Mpeketoni maternity unit. We had challenges with the previous contractor that forced us to have the works contracted afresh. We expect the project to be completed in the next few months," she said.
At Faza hospital, the construction of the outpatient ward is still going on and is 95 percent complete.
At King Fahad, the outpatient department block, which houses the accident and emergency section and the renal units, is complete and functional.
The renal unit was equipped under the national government’s Managed Equipment Services (MES) programme.
Ms Gathoni confirmed that construction of the ICU is yet to be completed.
The county government had budgeted for the equipping of the ICU in the current financial year, she said.
Another key State project whose implementation has been delayed is the Sh84 million Lamu Technical Training Institute in Hongwe, Mpeketoni.
The project was launched in 2014 and was set to be completed by December 2016.
Seven years later, the project has remained stuck midway after the contractor allegedly embezzled the cash and walked away in mid-2015, leaving behind the unfinished building.
Residents who talked to Nation.Africa on Monday pleaded with the national government to retender the project and have it completed.
Hongwe Ward MCA James Komu termed the project crucial in the area.
“This project is important to our region. We want it completed to help address the challenge of Lamu youth, who are forced to seek higher education in other counties such as Mombasa, Nairobi, Kisumu, Nakuru and other places far from home,” he said.
We could not reach Lamu West MP Stanley Muthama for comment on the stalled project as his phone went unanswered.
The Sh599 million Mokowe customs jetty is another mega State project in Lamu that has faced delays.
Construction commenced in 2019 and the jetty was to be ready by February 2021.
Eight months on, the project is only about 70 percent complete.
In a previous interview with Nation.Africa, Hillary Nyaanga, the chief structural engineer in the State Department of Public Works, cited the Covid-19 pandemic as the key reason for the delay in completing the project.
"Construction of the Mokowe customs jetty is progressing well. Yes, it was to be completed in December 2020 but we extended it to February this year. We still couldn't complete the construction due to Covid-19 inconveniences. Works are, however, on at the jetty,” he said.
Apart from the Mokowe jetty, the national government also undertook and completed three other key jetties in Lamu that were structurally unsound.
They include jetties at Mtangawanda (Sh72 million), Manda Airport (Sh48 million), and Lamu Mangrove Terminal (Sh35 million).
This year, however, the national government announced plans to build a new jetty at King Fahad hospital to aid movement of personnel and patients.
But no construction work is going on at the planned King Fahad jetty, with residents insisting the facility is needed.
Jetties are a crucial element of Lamu's water transport system as they are the main entry and exit points for passengers and cargo coming to Lamu town and adjacent islands.
The Mokowe jetty, which is still under construction, is the largest of them.
The other key State project facing delays is the ongoing Sh121 million renovation and expansion of the apron and taxiway at Manda Airport in Lamu West.
The project commenced in March this year, with the airport losing major airlines because of its poor state.
The project was to be completed before the end of August this year, according to Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) Coast Regional Manager Peter Wafula.
Nation.Africa, however, established that the project is still under construction and 55 percent complete.
An official at the airport, who did not want to be named as he is not authorised to speak to the news media, cited water as the key challenge facing the project.
“Work is 55 percent complete. A temporary taxiway has already been put up. We are awaiting the arrival of cement for stabilisation. Cement is coming by sea on Monday. We expect the entire project to be completed by November this year. Water has also been our biggest challenge,” the official said.
Mr Wafula, the KAA Coast regional manager, admitted that the apron and taxiway work was still underway at Manda Airport.
“We expect it to be completed sometime in November 2021. We will confirm further details after the project implementation committee shares their revised programme report on Thursday next week,” he said.