The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) is set to launch investigations into the expenditure of more than Sh100 billion received by the Turkana County government over the last 10 years.
This comes after the Senate County Public Accounts Committee unearthed several cases of financial malpractices and mismanagement in the county. The committee chaired by Homa Bay Senator Moses Kajwang’ describing the county government as a “crime scene”.
State House Deputy Chief of Staff Josphat Nanok is the immediate former governor of Turkana, having served two terms.
The committee, in its inspection of projects rolled out by Mr Nanok’s administration, found cases of stalled projects that have gobbled up billions of shillings, and misplaced priorities.
The committee was told that the tender for the construction of the county’s headquarters, which has been ongoing since 2015, has been varied from the initial Sh695 million to Sh829 million. Further, a tour of the project revealed that 20 air conditioners were procured at Sh84 million and have been fixed in the building even though it has no power.
The building also has a perimeter wall that has gobbled millions of shillings despite it being within the fence of the larger county premises.
Mr Kajwang’ said they were expecting to see new health facilities, water and agriculture projects but were instead confronted with stories of stalled projects, corruption and mismanagement by the county executive and assembly. He noted the governor’s and speaker’s residences as well as assembly offices have stalled despite more than a billion shillings being pumped into them.
“How can it be that after 10 years and Sh100 billion later, we are talking about projects for the big men and not solutions for the people of Turkana?” asked Mr Kajwang’. “The stalled projects, corruption and financial mismanagement that we have seen in Turkana over the last 10 years, I think we could reach the conclusion that this is a crime scene.”
The lawmaker asked the Controller of Budget to scrutinise all requisitions from the county to avoid pumping more money into projects that do not add value to the people of Turkana.
“We will not relent as a Senate in holding everyone accountable even those who have left office. If they have to appear before the Senate watchdog committees or investigative agencies, we shall give those directions so that there can be justice for the people of Turkana,” said Mr Kajwang’.
He questioned why Mr Nanok’s regime prioritised putting up of a county headquarters at more than Sh800 million, yet the money could have delivered more than 40 boreholes, classrooms and hospitals.
“When we made the decision to come to Turkana, we were hoping that we would come to celebrate the fruits of devolution and how lives have changed as a result of the billions of shillings Turkana has received,” he said.
Governor Jeremiah Lomurkai said did not find serious projects in the county.
“The period that this building has taken to completion is what is alarming even to myself. The project’s contract was varied by the previous regime,” he said.
At the stalled governor’s residence, the committee was told that a contractor was paid Sh206 million for only doing the foundation and putting up a structure. A new contractor was brought in to complete the project for Sh90.5 million. The contractor has also stopped work, demanding for Sh28 million.
“There is no way this project can take about Sh300 million. This is not value for money,” said Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna.
Nyandarua Senator John Methu questioned why the first contractor was paid fast even though he did little work. In response, the committee heard that payment was fast tracked because the contractor is allegedly related to a former top official of the previous administration.