Wambora gri*led over Sh88m stalled projects

Tuesday, May 25th, 2021 00:00 | By
Embu Governor Martin Wambora when he appeared before the Senate CPAIC to answer audit queries raised by the Auditor General on county expenditure.  Photo/PD/Samuel Kariuki

Embu County Government is grappling with a Sh1.2 billion debt, according to the Auditor General.

The auditor further states that the county government’s revenue streams declined during the 2018/19 financial year, leading to stalling of a total of 22 projects worth Sh88.76 million.

The revelations emerged yesterday as the Senate Committee On County Public Accounts and Investment (CPAIC) grilled Governor Martin Wambora over 2018/19 suspicious expenditures flagged by Auditor General Nancy Gathungu.

Appearing before the committee on Monday, Wambora the county chief attributed the stalled 22 projects to late releases of cash for the projects by the National Treasury.

“In the financial year under review, there were challenges of exchequer release which made it difficult to procure the said projects in good time,” he said.

The county chief was also hard-pressed to explain why nine years since the advent of devolution, 26 unserviceable vehicles belonging to the defunct local authorities and whose value is unknown,  are still lying idle.

Gathungu, in her audit report for the 2018/19 financial year noted the vehicles had been grounded and are continuously deteriorating through wear and tear and no explanation was given by the management on why the vehicles had not been bonded and disposed of.

 “These vehicles should have been used to help the county in service delivery, Governor Wambora why are the vehicles still lying idle nine years since you assumed office,” Isiolo Senator Fatuma Dullo charged.

“What are we telling ourselves as leaders if we cannot do something about this, you either repair them or use them as scrap metals to help save the taxpayer,” Dullo said.

In his defence, Wambora said the unserviceable vehicles belong to the defunct Local Authorities and National Government and his administration is awaiting the report from the Intergovernmental Relations Committee to commence disposal.

Stalled vehicles 

 “Progress is being made to dispose them of, because they are occupying a lot of space.

The number, 26, captured in the audit was an old figure, most of the vehicles have been repaired and are now in use,” he told the committee chaired by Migori Senator Ochillo Ayacko.

Besides, at least Sh143 million reportedly spent on travel by county officers could not be accounted for.

The county government was also on the spot for not providing documents in support of the expenditure amounting to Sh21.41 million on domestic and subsistence travel.

According to the auditor, there were no supporting documents such as imprest requests and back to office reports proving that the money was properly used.

In addition, the county disclosed spending Sh4.89 million on fuel. However, the supporting documents, fuel registers, and detailed orders were not availed by the county government.

Further, the county spent Sh49.99 million and Sh66.90 million on purchase of specialised materials and services and other operating expenses respectively.

However, supporting documents including payment vouchers were not availed to auditors, triggering concerns the money could have been misappropriated.

Wambora, who is also the chairman of the Council of Governors said his team had difficulty retrieving  documents from a dilapidated building but added that his officials had finally recovered  the documents.

“We had a serious problem with the building. We had a serious challenge. But we have managed to get the documents,” he said, adding: “We have attached surrender documents for audit verification and confirmation.”

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