Kenya Water Towers Agency probed over possible Sh147.7 million loss in bamboo project

Agency spent about Sh147.7 million between 2017-18 and 2021-22 towards the establishment of the bamboo enterprise but where is it?

In Summary

• EACC investigates after the Auditor General flagged irregularities of Sh147.7m on a demonstration project. Agency head unreachable.

•  Site launched in 2019 to promote bamboo commercialisation among communities adjacent to forests, but virtually nothing is happening.

The degraded Mau Forest.
ENCROACHMENT: The degraded Mau Forest.
Image: FILE

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission is investigating the Kenya Water Towers Agency over allegations of irregular spending on a nonexistent  bamboo project.

The Professor Julius Tanui-led agency is being investigated after Auditor General Nancy Gathungu flagged a possible loss of Sh147.7 million that was supposed to be spent on promoting bamboo.

 “The Commission is investigating allegations of irregularities in the establishment of a National Bamboo Growing Demonstration Centre at Kaptagat Forest during the financial year 2017-2018,” Paschal Mweu, EACC’s director of investigations said in a letter dated November 10.

The letter by EACC requests information on the alleged irregularities. “To facilitate the investigations, kindly but urgently provide us with the originals of the following documents for the financial years 2017-2018, 2018-2019, 2019-2020, 2020-2021, 2021-2022, and 2022-2023; approved budget estimates and approved annual procurement plans,” the letter in the Star’s possession says.

KWTA is a state corporation under the Ministry of Environment and Forestry established in 2012 through a gazette notice.

The EACC also requested payment documents for the project, documents on stakeholder engagements carried out during the project life, a feasibility study of the project, and an environmental and social impact assessment report for the project.

Detectives also want a site survey and demarcation report and the resultant architectural designs, design, and procurement documents for drilling and equipping the project’s borehole.

Efforts to get a comment from Prof Tanui were unsuccessful as he has not answered calls nor responded to text messages.

Gathungu said in a recent audit report the Kenya Water Towers Agency injected the money to establish a national bamboo-growing demonstration centre at Kaptagat Forest in Elgeyo Hills in the 2018-19 financial year.

“The site was to be used for the production of bamboo seedlings and to serve as a community learning center. However, the audit revealed the site was neglected and had minimal activity towards establishing a bamboo demonstration center,” Gathungu said.

 “This is despite the agency having utilised approximately Sh147.7 million between 2017-18 and 2021-22 towards the establishment of the bamboo enterprise.”

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