Senate opens probe into Sh568m property deal

Nominated Senator Millicent Omanga (left) and Senator Kimani Wamatangi during a past Senate committee on Public Accounts and Investments. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The County Government in May mooted plans to buy the property in Eldoret at Sh568 million.
  • Petitioners led by Kipkorir Menjo have said the Sh568 million cannot be used to purchase a dilapidated building.

The Senate Finance and Budget committee has started investigating the dispute over Uasin Gishu’s planned purchase of a National Bank of Kenya (NBK) building for office space.

During their fact-finding mission on Thursday, Committee members led by Nominated Senator Rose Nyamunga said they are on the ground to establish the truth of the issues raised by the petitioners.

Speaking in Eldoret, Ms Nyamunga disclosed that petitioners will know their fate within the next one month.

“The main agenda of the petition is the requisition of the NBK housing by the county government to expand space for their offices. We have gotten the sides of both the devolved unit and petitioners, we have looked at all the aspects of the matter, we are going to write a report and make a recommendation based on what we have gathered and move forward,” said Senator Nyamunga.

Plan questioned

According to Nominated Senator Millicent Omanga, their tour has enabled them access the building.

“As a committee, we are here to assess the weakness the county has in regard to lack of space for its staff.  We will compile our findings and give way forward on the matter,” said Ms Omanga.

According to area Senator Prof Margaret Kamar, the intended amount to be used in the planned purchase is beyond what the Senate usually approves for a construction of a county headquarters.

“The amount the county wants to use for the purchase of NBK is already beyond what the Senate allows for the construction of a headquarters,” said Prof Kamar.

The County Government in May mooted plans to buy the property in Eldoret at Sh568 million.

MCAs, however, had questioned the plan after it emerged that the initial cost of Sh568 million could have been inflated.

Procurement laws

Senator Kamar insisted that the Senate will have to establish whether other options for office space were explored and if procurement laws were adhered to.

 “Given the alternatives available, it is clear that no feasibility study was carried out and there is no evidence of competitive sourcing/bidding which would have involved a bid for purchase by the County Government, but instead, there was only a single offer which casts doubts on how the offer was arrived at,” reads the petition.

On October 19, 2018, the County Government valued the building at Sh568 million with a breakdown of Sh450 million being purchase cost and Sh118 million for improvements.

Dilapidated building

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission also stopped the plan, saying it was hurriedly approved by the county assembly pending the outcome of the probe it launched into the contentious deal in May.

Petitioners led by Kipkorir Menjo have said the Sh568 million cannot be used to purchase a dilapidated building.

“We are hopeful that the Senate will get justice in this matter because that amount cannot be used to purchase a building of 1980,” said Mr Menjo.

But Deputy Governor Daniel Chemno maintained that the process of acquisition followed the due process in accordance with Public Procurement and Disposal Act.

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