House team probes the building of Ronald Ngala Utalii College

Ronald Ngala Utalii College.

 Baseline Architects Ltd senior partner Morris Njue when he appeared before Public Investments Committee at Parliament Buildings on October 5, 2021. Baseline Architects Ltd is the consultant firm for Tourism Fund's Ronald Ngala Utalii College.

Photo credit: Jeff Angote | Nation Media Group

The National Assembly’s Public Investments Committee (PIC) has started fresh investigations into the use of tourism funds at the Kilifi-based Ronald Ngala Utalii College.

The college was initiated in 2007 under the regime of President Mwai Kibaki but stalled after the committee and Ethics and Anti-Corruption commission (EACC) raised concern over increased cost of construction.

The construction is being funded from the Tourism Fund. The chairman of the fund, Mr Alfonse Kioko, mid this year said the college will be 50 per cent complete by early next year, paving the way for its first intake of students.

Despite the fact that PIC conducted a similar probe on the issue during the last parliament, EACC insists it is still on its trail while the Implementation committee of the National Assembly has joined the fray, complicating the matter.

Under the rules of the House, the Implementation committee is involved to the extent where it has to establish whether the previous resolution of the House on the matter has been implemented.

PIC is chaired by Mvita MP Abdulswamad Sharif Nassir while the Implementation committee is chaired by Narok North MP Ole Kenta. None of them picked calls made to their cell phones.

Early this year, Tourism CS Najib Balala appointed a task force to look into the mandate of Kenya Utalii College, sustainability of its operations as well as financing and sources of the funds.

Sh1.9 billion

The committee ordered the Office of the Auditor General to conduct a special audit on the circumstances that led to the escalation of the project from its original Sh1.9 billion cost to Sh8.9 billion before it was scaled down to Sh4.9 billion.

The contract for the main works was awarded to the third lowest pre-qualified bidder, Mulji Devraj and Brothers Ltd at Sh8.96 billion and signed on May 14, 2013.

A team was tasked to consider the application of college investments and assets, governance and management models as well as transition mechanisms.

The taskforce was to conduct its work expeditiously and submit its report to the Cabinet Secretary in 30 days.

Ronald Ngala Utalii College

Construction work goes on on the 42 acre piece of land for the Ronald Ngala Utalii College in in Vipingo, Kilifi County on August 25, 2015.

Photo credit: Wachira Mwangi | Nation Media Group

Members include Tourism CAS Joseph Boinett, Krishna Unni, Barnabas Wamoto, Shazmin Manji, Mehdi Morad and Lina Ayako.

The appointment of the taskforce came at a time there were revelations that the Kenya Utalii College is broke after posting Sh410.5 million loss in the year to June 2017.

Baseline Architects

Mr Dominic Motanya, who is the managing director of Baseline Architects, the lead consultant of the consortium of consultants, appeared before the committee on Tuesday and is due to return next week to adduce evidence on the alleged financial mismanagement at the Tourism Fund.

The consortium, which also included Ujenzi Consultants, Armitech Consulting Engineers and West Consulting Engineers, submitted their bid which was evaluated alongside others, according to Mr Motanya.

The Sh845.3 million tender was to provide consultancy services for the design of the proposed college in architecture and interior design, civil and structural engineering, building, mechanical and electrical engineering services and quantity surveying.

In its report, Parliament directed the management of the college to re-design the institution to accommodate 3,000 students, among other additional components at a cost of Sh8.9 billion.

The committee argued the redesign would ensure cost-effectiveness of the project and give taxpayers value for money and ordered CS Balala to regularise the multi-billion shilling project that lacks Cabinet approval.