Senators push DCI, EACC to probe use of Sh13bn Covid cash

Counties spent only Sh3 billion out of Sh13 billion they received to fight the virus

In Summary

• Lawmakers want the Office of the Auditor-General to carry out a forensic audit to trace what may have happened to the remainder of the funds.

• Report shows counties utilised a huge chunk of Covid-19 cash on non-essentials.

Samples are taken from a truck driver for Covid-19 test at the Miritini Covid-19 Testing Centre on July 3
COVID-19 TEST: Samples are taken from a truck driver for Covid-19 test at the Miritini Covid-19 Testing Centre on July 3

Senators want a probe into how counties spent Sh13 billion meant for the war on Covid-19.

They want the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations to institute a probe after revelations that counties utilised a huge chunk of the funds on non-essentials.

They include fuel, TV sets, foodstuffs, drinking water, lubricants and allowances.

According to the Special Budget Review Implementation Report on the Utilisation of Funds by County Governments towards Covid-19 interventions, counties spent Sh3.43 billion out of the Sh13.1 billion to fight the contagion.

The money was received between March 13 and July 31 this year, a report by Controller of Budget Margaret Nyakango shows.

Lawmakers now want the Office of the Auditor-General to trace what may have happened to the remainder of the funds.

Nyamira Senator Okong’o Omogeni said that while the public was told that there were hundreds of isolation beds in county hospitals, that was not the case.

“In Nyamira county, there is a hospital called Inaitambi where Governor John Nyagarama announced that he had set aside 50 beds to cater for the Covid-19 patients but even the road leading to that hospital is non-existent,” he said.

Omogeni said Nyamira county was given Sh150 million to fight the virus. "Where did that money go?” 

The senator claimed Nyamira residents who want to take the virus test in public hospitals are being referred to private hospitals.

“Where are the poor people we represent going to get Sh8,000 for the Covid-19 test, yet we know that money was given to all the counties?” he asked.

Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala said his county received Sh410 million to help curb the spread of the disease.

“However, up to now, there is nothing substantive to write home about on how these funds were utilised,” he lamented.

Malala said the county, which has a huge population, has only five isolation centres.

"The county boasts of having a gene expert machine, a machine which tests Covid-19. However, the machine is dysfunctional, laying idle at the Kakamega County General Hospital, hence my county has to send medical staff with samples to other counties to test for Covid-19.”

In Bungoma, Senator Moses Wetang'ula said that while President Uhuru Kenyatta directed every county to have a minimum of 300 ICU beds, many devolved units lie publicly that they have about 30 or 40 ICU beds.

“My own county of Bungoma has about seven ICU beds. Some counties do not even have a single ICU bed. It is a big shame. This House has a duty to protect counties and their governments as well as allocate resources to go to counties,” the senator said.

“The agencies of governance such as the DCI, the EACC, the Auditor-General, Parliament and county assemblies must wake up and live up to their billing of enforcing accountability.”

Wajir Senator Ali Abdullahi said while others were talking about 300 beds, it is a different story in his county.

“There are about two beds that are not functional. If you check the results of the Ministry of Health when they went there, the biggest, so called, referral hospital has nothing in place,” he said.

Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei said despite Sh180 million being allocated at the beginning of the pandemic, not even one litre of sanitiser or a single mask has been provided by the county government to the public.

“It is sad that on one occasion airtime was allocated up to Sh350,000. One wonders why such an amount would be allocated for airtime. I did not know that airtime could fight Covid-19, but it is being used to fight the virus when one comes to Nandi,” he said.