Anxiety over delay in payment of CBC classrooms contractors
Confusion has engulfed the payment of more than Sh7.8 billion owed to contractors who built 10,000 classrooms for the Competence Based Curriculum (CBC) following President William Ruto’s announcement to form a task force on the education system.
Local Directors of Education are now feeling the heat of the government’s delay to pay the contractors who have been under pressure from Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha to finish work before the end of this month ahead of the first intake into Junior Secondary Schools (JSS) next year.
Though the Ministry of Education yesterday moved to assure the contractors that their issue is being handled at high levels, uncertainty shrouded the payment process with questions emerging on whether the government would honour the agreement in the wake of plans to form a task force whose report would determine the fate of CBC.
The contractors were supposed to have been paid in May, but the government pushed the payments to be made after the end of the 2021/2022 financial year.
Sources intimated to People Daily that certain forces within government are pushing to have the payments shelved until the time the fate of CBC is determined by the proposed task force.
Should that happen, then contractors should brace themselves to wait for a longer time that could run into months, before their payments could be effected.
During his inauguration, Ruto promised to form a task force to collate views from Kenyans and education stakeholders to determine whether to disband or retain CBC with some modifications.
Education Principal Secretary Julius Jwan, while conceding to the delay in the payments due to some logistics related to the “ongoing transition”, his ministry has already engaged the National Treasury over the matter.
“The payments have been delayed because of the logistics of political transition but we are engaging the Treasury to ensure that they are paid as soon as possible. We plead with them to be a bit patient as we get this sorted out,” Jwan told People Daily.
Jwan assured contractors that the “top brass in the government” is fully seized of the matter and is doing everything possible to ensure the payment is effected as soon as possible and asked Kenyans not to read too much politics into it.
But some of the contractors who talked to People Daily accused the government of playing a “ping-pong game” with them over the payments.
We wonder how the payments have been delayed by the political transition in government when the project was fully planned and budgeted for. Have they just realised now that the contractors were supposed to be paid?” asked David Anami, one of the contractors based in Kakamega who is demanding pay for ten classrooms.
Anami says the delay has caused immense suffering to some of his colleagues with a number of them facing threats from auctioneers while others have not paid their staff salaries and operation bills.
The matter has been compounded further by President Ruto’s directive to ministries, State departments and agencies not to effect payments of more than Sh50 million without the approval of the National Treasury, a directive intended to stop a last-minute spending spree by outgoing officials.
The government had earmarked to construct at least 10,000 classrooms by end of last month to ease congestion in readiness for the anticipated double intake next year when more than 1.5 million Grade Six learners are expected to join JSS and an additional 1.5 million from Standard Eight join Form One.
President Uhuru Kenyatta had last year directed the National Treasury to make available Sh8.1 billion for the project to support the primary to secondary school shift in the CBC.