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EACC HALTS DEAL

Senate probes county plan for Sh570m building purchase

Uasin Gishu residents petition Senate , say there is no value for money in the deal

In Summary
  • Senator Kamar says NBK building is in ‘a poor state of repair’ and no worthy reason has been given as to why other county properties have been overlooked.
  • The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission has already stopped the plan, saying it was hurriedly approved by the county assembly.
The National Bank of Kenya Building in Eldoret
The National Bank of Kenya Building in Eldoret
Image: FILE

Senators have instigated a parallel investigation into the controversial plan by the Uasin Gishu government to buy the National Bank building in the heart of Eldoret town for Sh570 million.

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission has already 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.

 

Speaker Kenneth Lusaka has directed the Senate Finance and Budget Committee to inquire into the deal following a petition by aggrieved residents of Uasin Gishu.

Governor Jackson Mandago's administration wanted to buy the building for use as office spaces by the executive.

However, the intention has sparked uproar among local leaders and residents who have claimed it heralds massive loss of public money.

Through their Senator Margaret Kamar, the residents have petitioned the Senate to probe the deal with a view to stopping its execution.

They claimed there was neither public participation nor a feasibility study carried out to ascertain the viability, prudence and value for money in the acquisition of the building.

Kamar said the building is in ‘a poor state of repair’ and no worthy reason has been given as to why other county properties have been overlooked.

“Given the alternatives available…., it is clear that a feasibility study was not carried out, and further, there is no evidence of competitive sourcing or bidding, which would have involved a bid for purchase by the county. Instead, there was only a single offer, which casts doubts concerning how the offer was arrived at,” Kamar said.

 

According to evaluation done by the county government in 2018, the building was valued at Sh568 million, comprising Sh450 million as the actual value and Sh118 million to be used for repairs.

But the petitioners claimed the negotiating team appointed by acting lands and housing chief officer settled on Sh570 million as the purchase price of the building.

“This was done without clear reasons for the increase in the price from that of the valuation by the county government at Sh568 million,” the petitioners said.

While contributing to the petition, Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei said it was shocking that the county was hell-bent on purchasing the property that does not give value to the residents.

“It is shocking that the price of purchase and repair were almost equal. Why should you acquire a building that you will use a lot of money to repair? Why would you acquire a building that does not give economic justifiability or any other viability for the people?” Cherargei asked.

Moses Wetang'ula (Bungoma) said it was outrageous for the county government to spend millions of taxpayers’ money on a derelict structure despite the county having several properties inherited from the defunct Wareng County Council.

“The National Bank building is very old and derelict, it has been unkempt. It is an outrage to buy a building and spend an equal sum of money to renovate it, money that probably would have been used to construct a better building,” Wetang'ula said.

Mutual Kilonzo Jr (Makueni) said, “What Uasin Gishu county has done is very clever but not too clever, to purchase a building for around Sh570 million but the catch is not the purchase. The catch will be the money they are going to spend doing red carpets, expensive leather seats, air conditioning, massage parlours and possibly saunas for the governor.”

 

Edited by P.O