How Kiambu lost Sh500m to dubious road contractors

Friday, April 12th, 2024 08:30 | By
Former Kiambu governor James Nyoro. PHOTO/Print

An audit report reveals that Kiambu county may have wasted over half a billion shillings through dubious road contracts between 2017 and 2022.

In the 2022–23 financial year, the Auditor General’s report lifts the lid on how unscrupulous officials have been using roads contracts as a conduit to loot the county Treasury.

The report which indicts the administration of former governors Ferdinand Waititu and James Nyoro, revealed that between 2017 and 2022, road contracts were awarded controversially and the costs of previously issued tenders, including those tendered  in 2015, were revised upwards.

Further, the auditor’s verifications revealed that some roads were either never constructed or were delayed.

“The awarded roads did not exist in some instances, while others were never paid, leading to stalling and huge pending bills,” reads the report.

One of the projects questioned by the agency is the improvement of the 4.7 kilometre Kimbo-Matangi-ini Road in Juja sub county to bitumen standards, which for the past three years has been the subject of protests by locals due to its poor condition despite having sunk county money since 2016. The contract (No CGK/RTPW&U/45/2016/2017) was on May 11, 2017, awarded at a cost of Sh170.5 million when the county was under former Governor William Kabogo and the contract had a timeline of 18 months.

However, on November 14, 2019, one month before Waititu was impeached, the contract was revised to Sh213 million “although there was no evidence that the contract variation was approved.”

Auditors say no works were certified during their scrutiny since the last interim certificate of payment was done on March 16, 2020.

“Field verification carried out in October 2023 revealed that the contractor had abandoned the site and the road was impassable due to potholes,” reads the report in part.

Not traced

The auditors have also questioned the improvement of Thika Town entrance Garissa Junction at Gatitu and Kenyatta Road, which was awarded under tender No. CGK/RTPW&U/161/2014-2015 on June 25, 2015, for Sh221 million.

Also on the list is a Sh2.5m tender titled “Spot Patching and Culvert Installation” in Gitothua, Kiuu, and Ting’ang’a wards under contract number 836879-2020/2021 for the county.

A review of the documents revealed that the project was completed, but the road could not be traced, “hence it was not possible to confirm its existence.”

To avert a continuation of the trend, Governor Kimani Wamatangi has already devised a new framework for opening up rural and feeder access roads, which he says has reduced the cost of construction from Sh6 million to Sh400,000 each and enhanced efficiency.

Wamatangi said since he took over office, he has assembled road construction units of dozens of county-owned graders, compactors, trucks, water bowsers and excavators, which have been opening up new roads and undertaking routine maintenance on feeder roads at a significantly reduced cost.

“Initially, the county has been floating tenders for rehabilitating rural access roads, some of which cost up to Sh6 million each, with over 500 percent of the money reportedly going to brokers and unscrupulous officials who demand hefty kickbacks,” says the county chief.

Corruption, the Governor said, has been thriving in the previous framework, adding that the roads department may have paid over Sh900 million for road rehabilitation and maintenance works in the last regimes, while a senior officer has admitted the genuine contracts only totaled Sh175 million for the total works.

The auditors revealed that on May 21, 2021, the county awarded a Sh4.4 million contract to rehabilitate the Kahuguini Secondary-Githima-Karoha Access Road in Gatundu South, which is 2.6 kilometres long, but only two kilometres were done.

Also in question is the rehabilitation of Thegete-ini Access Roads, whose 1.5-kilometer grading and drainage contract was awarded on March 1, 2022, at the cost of Sh3.8 million.

However, an inspection in October 2023 revealed that the road was being rehabilitated by the Kenya Rural Roads Authority (KERRA), and there was no signage to identify works done by the county government.

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