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Sunday, September 25, 2016

52 MPs got NYS contracts, PAC audit reveals

‘EARTH-SHAKING’ REPORT: Huduma Centre in Kiambu county on September 8, 2015.Photo/File
‘EARTH-SHAKING’ REPORT: Huduma Centre in Kiambu county on September 8, 2015.Photo/File

Fifty-two MPs have been sucked into the widening NYS vortex after revelations they got lucrative tenders for often-shoddy construction of Huduma Centres.

Investigations by the Parliamentary Accounts Committee indicate Kenyans could have lost Sh15 billion through irregular contracts and inflated supplies prices at the Devolution ministry.

The Star yesterday established the PAC has concluded the ministry cannot account for Sh15 billion of its Sh25 billion allocation in 2013-14.

"An earth-shaking report will be tabled" in the next month," a PAC member told the Star on condition of anonymity.

“What we saw in our inspections [of all Huduma Centres] was appalling. Some hyped in the media before launch are just a sham. Some contractors should be in Kamiti [Maximum Security Prison],” another committee member said.

PAC has been probing ministry spending and has toured 40 centres in 27 counties to assess value for money in constructing the one-stop, digitalised citizen service hubs.

Public Service CS Sicily Kariuki, who is responsible for the Huduma Centres, reportedly told the committee she needed time to "tell how the money was spent". In November she succeeded former Devolution CS Waiguru, who resigned under pressure and is being investigated by the EACC.

The Huduma Centres were a Waiguru flagship project.

“We have spoken to her (Kariuki) more than twice and she says she cannot show how these billions were spent. We've been treated to a game of musical chairs,” another committee member said.

Political storm worsens

The revelations worsen the political storm following claims key Jubilee leaders took part in the Sh791 million National Youth Service theft. Other large sums are also involved in the scandal.

Initial investigations show looting of the billions was stage-managed, with 52 MPs both from both the Jubilee Alliance and Cord awarded tenders to build Huduma Centres.

They have not been publicly identified.

MPs were contracted to build, refurbish and equip Huduma Centres in 47 counties, in an ambitious programme started in 2013.

Drawing MPs into the Devolution vortex has complicated the already convoluted scam that saw powerful CS Waiguru leave President Uhuru's Cabinet.

PAC investigations show some MPs — including some who vigorously defended Waiguru — did shoddy work in building or refurbishing, but still pocketed millions of shillings.

Details about MPs' involvement have created a dilemma for government critics, including Cord leaders, because some opposition lawmakers reaped big from the NYS scandal through the contracts.

Since Wednesday, Cord MPs have twice postponed media briefings about allegations top Jubilee leaders were among politicians benefitting from the scam, orchestrated by senior ministry officials and aided by the political class.

On Wednesday, a Parliament press conference by Cord MPs was cancelled at the last minute.

Yesterday, MPs led by Homa Bay’s Peter Kaluma, did not show up nor pick calls, despite sending out a media alert.

Cord leaders reportedly have warned members not to address the media on the "sensitive matter until further notice".

“We are still gathering facts before hitting hard on this. Our colleagues say they require wider consultation,” said Nyando MP Fred Outa, who had booked Wednesday's press conference.

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