Graft rife at Bungoma council, claims mayor
Bungoma mayor Patrick Sulechi has raised a red flag over massive corruption that he says might cripple services at the council. Sulechi said yesterday that top chiefs at the council are abetting corruption while key projects have stalled with residents being denied essential services. “I have never seen corruption of this magnitude in my lifetime. We seat in full council meetings and allocate huge sums of money for projects yet they are never completed,” he said.
Sulechi said he was surprised that during the budget reading, council clerk Sam Owade, who was absent, prepared a budget speech for Finance chairman John Maguda, which indicated that all the projects under financial 2010/2011 have been completed, which is not the case. “Nothing has been done and there is no money completely in all the council accounts and nobody is ready to explain the whereabouts of the missing cash,” said the mayor.
He claimed his efforts to have the council clerk convene a full council meeting fell on deaf ears. Together with other civic leaders, we sought the audience of both former Local Government minister Musalia Mudavadi and Fred Gumo but all in vain,'' said Sulechi. The mayor further accused the clerk for improper use of the council vehicles while even denying the mayor his official vehicle. “Almost all council vehicles are now grounded because of misuse of the vehicles for his personal trips to his Migori county,” he said
Sinoko ward councilor Godfery Sichangi accuse Owande and treasurer Kennedy Mairura of issuing bouncing cheques to contractors and schools in form of bursaries to needy students. “This is not only criminal but absurd for the duo to write cheques to institutions with full knowledge that they closed down the accounts at the Co-operative Bank,” he said while showing several cheques that had bounced.
Reached for comment both the council clerk Sam Owade and treasurer Mairura denied all the claims terming the allegations as baseless and aimed at gaining some people political mileage. “These are baseless allegations by busybodies and we don’t fear to be investigated,” said Owade. This comes barely a few weeks after residents of the town staged demonstrations demanding that both clerk and treasury be transferred where several people were injured during the protests.
Sulechi accused the clerk of spending the recent allocation 12.1milion shillings without convening a single meeting of the civic meeting referring to it as impunity of the highest level contrary to the local government act. Another civic leader Majimbo Okumu of the khalaba ward said he had already reported the matter to both the criminal investigation department and the anti corruption team and was surprised that nothing was being done.
The council has been unable to pay it workers for several months despite the fact that it draws huge revenues from Bungoma town residents. Majimbo alleged that the clerk and treasurer have lined up their cronies who abet corruption rings on their behalf. Reached for comment both the council clerk Sam Owade and treasurer Mairura denied all the claims terming the allegations as baseless and aimed at gaining some people political mileage. “These are baseless allegations by busybodies and we don’t fear to be investigated,” said Owade.