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Nairobi — The State Department for Public Works has been faulted for sinking public funds by failing to conduct cost evaluation for the construction of the Kwale Governor’s residence.
The failure by the Independent State department body to conduct the evaluation of the Sh160 million residence has led to the stalling of the project.
Appearing before the Senate Public Investment Committee, Kwale Governor Salim Mvurya revealed that the Controller of Budget Margaret Nyakango maintained that he would not release funds for the completion of the project until the cost evaluation is concluded.
“We had requested the State department of public works to relegate this project to the regional team. We know the National team is busy. It’s really a matter that is a challenge to us, but we want to continue pushing so that it can be reviewed,” said Mvurya.
The County Executive awarded the contract for the construction of the Governor’s residence in the 2017-2018 financial year for a period of 12 months. Five years on, its yet to be completed.
“This is the only project that we are very much worried about as a county government because of its slow pace,” Mvurya said.
In 2018, the Senate capped the cost of building a governor’s residence to be at Sh45 million while that for a deputy governor and assembly speaker was capped at Sh35 million.
The lawmakers said the decision was arrived at after an inquiry revealed that some costs were so inflated leading to fraudulent deals.
The county’s chief finance officer Alex Onduko stated that already they had been given a nod to continue with the project despite it surpassing the ceiling cap but until a cost evaluation is concluded, their hands are tied.
“We have bills amounting to Sh20 million which we can’t pay because the controller of budget is waiting for the cost of evaluation report. We wrote to the state department that the project is stalling and we need the value for money report to unlock the money,” Onduko stated.
The county’s executive and the auditors hold that the cost of constructing the governor’s residence is expected to escalate due to the stalling.
“We have unpaid invoices amounting to Sh20 million which we can’t pay. The stalling of the project is escalating cost especially once we retender,” Onduko said.
“We offered to facilitate them, but they are constantly telling us that getting a team to come is an issue,” he added.
The Vice Chair of the committee Hargura Godana questioned why the process to obtain the evaluation report had taken more than two years.
“This project was supposed to end in August 2019, it’s now two years. Thats a long time. Talk to the principal secretary and push for the cost evaluation,” said Godana.
Site inspection by the auditors in the month of November 2020 revealed that the contractor was not on site with minimal work having been done between October 2019 and November 2020.
The project contract period was extended for four (4) months with the new completion time set for August 2019.
“The County Executive had incurred costs of Kshs.105,125,725 towards the construction of the Governor’s Residence as of 30 June 2020,” read the report by the Auditor General.
“Consequently, value for money has not been realized on the project which is likely to incur more costs due to the delays in completion,” it added.