Stalled projects haunt North Rift governors
Stalled projects could stand in the way of governors in the North Rift being re-elected in next year’s election.
The incomplete facilities have been a cause of friction between the county chiefs and their predecessors, who initiated the projects, and who are also seeking reclaim the seats.
The governors facing criticism include Stephen Sang (Nandi), Stanley Kiptis (Baringo) and John Lonyangapuo of West Pokot.
Critics are accusing Sang of failing to complete the multi-million-shilling governor’s office and the Kipchoge Keino stadium. Both projects were initiated by his predecessor Cleophas Lagat.
But according to Sang, the construction of the stadium should be taken over by the national government through the Ministry of Sports because it requires a lot of funds.
“We will be engaging the national government to take over this project while we utilise funds meant for its completion to put in place a state-of-the-art sports academy for the benefit of our athletes,” Sang told People Daily.
He also blames the stalling of projects on unreliable allocation of resources from the national government.
The governor’s office remains incomplete despite the contractors being paid more than 70 per cent of the contract sum.
In the 2014 Budget, the county government allocated the project Sh124.57 million.
In the same year, the stadium was allocated Sh52.9 million and later revised to Sh118.9 million.
Also yet to be completed is the Sh500 million Mother and Baby Hospital facility at the County Referral Hospital in Kapsabet after the County Assembly claimed the cost of the project had been exaggerated.
The facility was one of Sang’s flagship projects.
Dido and Sons Company, which won the tender for the construction of the hospital has since removed its equipment from site, an indication that all is not well.
Nandi County Assembly has, however, read foul play and is demanding accountability in the usage of funds claiming the facility was being funded through conditional grants from the national government.
“The county has continued to provide funding in the annual budget for health projects but there is little to show on the ground,” said Terik Ward Member of the County Assembly Osborn Komen.
The county government has, however, defended itself from the accusations arguing that the project had not stalled but the money had been channeled towards addressing the Covid-19 crisis.
According to the County Health and Sanitation County Executive Dr Ruth Koech, the devolved unit will set aside Sh60 million towards completion of the facility which she says will host eight ICU beds and a similar number of High Dependency Unit (HDU) beds on completion.
“It will be the first of its kind in this region. It will also have mental and cancer centres and a blood bank,” Dr Koech told People Daily in an interview.
The assembly, however, claims the Mother and Baby Hospital was to have three floors but it was reduced to two although the budget was not revised downwards.
Following the outbreak of Covid-19, Sang announced that funding for multi-million shilling development projects in the county had been suspended and the funds directed to the fight against the pandemic.
“Our current focus is how to stamp out Covid-19. We’ve cut the budgets for lands, water, roads and agriculture and sports dockets to fight against the pandemic,” he said.
But Nandi senator Samson Cherargei is accusing Sang’s administration of management of funds meant to combat Covid-19.
Cherargei yesterday claimed the devolved unit cannot account for millions of shillings allocated by the County Assembly and the national government.
“There are no masks, sanitisers and food donations to cushion the vulnerable and the less fortunate,” said Cherargei who plans to run against Sang in the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) nominations.
In Baringo, the Sh18 million Kabarnet Stadium is an ugly eyesore.
The project, which was initiated by former governor Benjamin Cheboi in 2014, stalled after a portion of land meant for the stadium was allegedly grabbed by private developers.
Governor Kiptis, who took over from Cheboi, blames the situation on a land ownership conflict.
“Some people had earlier claimed ownership of the stadium which has derailed its completion,” said Kiptis.
But Cheboi, who is seeking to make a comeback, has dismissed the claim saying the land had already been demarcated as a public utility.
A spot check revealed the stadium has been turned into a drinking den, with liquor bottles littering the grounds.
Athletes in the area are unhappy about the delay.
“We are forced to seek training facilities in Elgeyo-Marakwet and Uasin-Gishu counties,” said James Kibet, an athlete.
In West Pokot, Governor Lonyangapuo has clashed with his predecessor Simon Kachapin over the stalled Kapenguria Stadium after the National Construction Authority (NCA) raised audit queries over the cost of the project.
Lonyangapuo invited the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate the project which was initiated during Kachapin’s tenure.
Kachapin, a Chief Administrative Secretary in the Sports ministry, also wants to reclaim the governor’s seat.