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September 24, 2018

Kakamega county spent Sh624 million on 'ghost' projects, Auditor General reveals

Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya addresses members of the public in Malava town during the inspection of development projects on May 27, 2015. /SAMUEL SIMITI
Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya addresses members of the public in Malava town during the inspection of development projects on May 27, 2015. /SAMUEL SIMITI

Kakamega county spent too much money on several projects and services but cannot show the value acquired in numerous instances.

This is according to a damning financial report by Auditor General Edward Ouko that terms Wycliffe Oparanya's administrative unit as one of the wasteful ones.

The report posted on the office of the auditor general's online portal details a budget allocation of Sh1.02 billion for 581 projects across the 13 subcounties between 2013 and 2015.

But only 31 per cent of the projects that have absorbed Sh405 million have been fulfilled. Sixty one per cent projects totaling Sh624 million have not been implemented.

The report raises the question of allocation of funds to various development projects in the county as well as the regulations for allocation.

Projects worth Sh425 million have either stalled, been abandoned or are sub-standard though complete.

Three roads in the county; Kakamega High School Road, Akamba Loop, and Nakumatt-Daisy Maraba Primary road, whose total construction and rehabilitation cost is estimated to be Sh26 million, have been abandoned. A total of Sh17 million had already been paid out to contractors.

Ouko's report further brings to the fore regulations surrounding allocation of projects to contractors.

The audit found that 21 contractors were allocated between two and eight projects valued at between Sh4 million and Sh16 million. 

All these works cumulatively cost the county Sh218 million but have either stalled or are substandard.

More questions concern projects that were approved and budgeted for yet now lie idle owing to lack of furniture, fittings and other equipment.

The county will be forced to explain blatant misappropriation of funds in sectors including education.

The report found that Sh22 million was allocated to the county's technical training facility for students tuition at Sh15,000 per student.

But there are no records for students who were beneficiaries, nor is there a record of how the beneficiaries were arrived yet the money has already been paid out.

In another instance, three secondary schools were allocated development funds totaling Sh20 million, yet physical verification of the intended developments shows there has been no groundbreaking.

A disbursement of Sh100 million to the county's five wards as ward development funds has also raised questions considering there were no stated regulations that guided the need for and release of the funds.

Another instance of misappropriation of funds concerns the the Oparanya Care Programme, an initiative by the Governor aimed at reducing child malnutrition.

At the time of the audit, Sh17 million had been set aside for more than 16,000 mothers in the county who were to receive Sh2,000 monthly for 18 months.

The requirement was that they attended four antenatal sessions in public clinics in the county.

The initiative delayed and the full amount was still in the county's bank accounts. This was because the physical verification of the mothers targeted to benefit from the initiative was not done in time.

The irregular payment of legal fees for cases that never took place is also mentioned in the report.

The county paid out Sh1.7 million for a defamation suit against a senator and the former county assembly deputy speaker, against a maximum cap of Sh150,000, according to the Advocates Remuneration Act.

But a spot check of the kenyalaw.org database has no record showing the case took off.

These and several other instances are bound to shift the focus to corruption in the national and county governments as Kenyans express dissatisfaction in the matter of accountability for public funds.

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