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Citizen Weekly

Monday, 15 September 2014

BAD NEWS FOR CROOKED CONTRACTORS IN TRANS NZOIA



The decision by Trans Nzoia governor Patrick Khaemba to freeze payments on all contractors pending a forensic audit has left ghost contractors and their cartels in government offices in utter trepidation.

Efforts by the contractors to sweet-talk the governor and armtwist his decision have similarly hit the wall with Khaemba standing firm.

Road contractors in the county will have to wait a little longer to access more than Sh1b development fund earmarked for this financial year until a team of inspectors from the departments confirm the actual works on the ground against their claims.

“The boss has made it categorically clear that no contractor big or small will be paid until the inspectorate team visits sites and verify what has happened on the ground. He has similarly invited members of county assembly and other interested leaders to accompany the team on a mission to establish the truth. His cardinal point to them is, ‘go to your work station and wait, if you have delivered, there is no cause for alarm, but otherwise, sorry’,” said a source familiar with the ongoings.

And the governor made good his threat to kickstart the exercise by touring roads done in Endebess last week where he was shocked to discover that only about a third of kilometres claimed had actually been touched on the ground.

“At this rate, it would appear that less than 400 kilometres out of the 1,200 kilometres the contractors are claiming have actually been done,” disclosed a source in the governor’s itinerary
As a result, Khaemba has directed the new minister in charge of public works to cancel all the local supply orders issued to the contractors and prepare new ones for those who will be confirmed to have actually delivered as per the agreements.

The cancellation of the contracts which has been received with warmly by a cross section of citizens from all walks of life was preceded by a major shake-up in the public works ministry and the finance docket where previously untouchables Lewis Ndombi and Andrew Wanyonyi were moved.

Khaemba noted that some roads were actually being claimed by more than two contractors and blamed some staff within the public works docket for facilitating the duplication,
The governor noticed to his dismay that some of the contractors who have been claiming more than Sh200 million had nothing to show on the ground.

“We have made a firm commitment to serve the residents of Trans Nzoia and this will not be possible if contractors collude with civil servants to fleece the county government,” he said
He later led his team to  Kiminini, Cherengany and Kwanza.

Among the riddles his mission intend to unravel is how some people were paid in the last financial year without any service on the ground and how some roads were allocated more than three contractors who were all claiming dues from the county government

Investigations revealed that some ghost contractors could be demanding over Sh600 million in the wake of huge development funds anticipated in the county kitty after president accented to the revenue bill last week.

The changes effected in the ministry of public works and finance  also after junior cadre staff whom had been crucial cog in the wheels of the corrupt dealings in the two departments were affected. 

Khaemba moved to dismantle endemic cartels within his government by transferring suspected graft-ridden ministers to lesser profile portfolios while instituting a probe that may see several heads roll over corruption connected scandals.

And in an apparent display of tactics of a man who is quickly learning the political ropes, the often quiet administrator with a mien of an internationally trained banking background last week crashed a simmering discontent by the targeted officers who wished to enlist support from members of the public through demonstrations curtail his onslaught on corrupt officers.
He organised several fora of different opinion leaders from different walks of life and managed to silence his critics.

Andrew Wanyonyi, who is believed to be behind numerous scandals rotating all ministries, was moved from the glamorous finance portfolio to agriculture attracting tirades of fireworks from a cartel who thought that their kingpin was untouchable.

Wanyonyi had earlier vowed to quit rather than be subjected “to disgrace” initially and defiantly refused to take the transfer letter arguing that as a person who was involved in Khaemba’s campaigns, “he was more of a political partner and co principal than a cabinet employee”.

“These changes, if at all it is true, will backfire and boomerang on the governor. Some of us are such an important cog in his political wheel that we would better remain inside his administration pissing outside than be in the cold for we will definitely piss inside his camp. We abandoned serious careers to come and mould this county and should not be subjected to this humiliation,” he was quoted lamenting recently.

He went further to incite the youth, some of whom he had irregularly dished out county tenders to storm to the streets but the governor nipped him in the bud by putting in place counter measures that left the former purse man isolated.

This prompted Wanyonyi’s sidekicks to harass other officers and as we went to press, one junior officer was recording a statement to explain why he was harassing staff members amid claims that Wanyonyi had put a staggering Sh1.2 million at the officer’s bank account  
But unmoved,  the governor replaced the finance boss with the grassroots connected former health boss Ken Simiyu who is said to have mastered the role of youth mobilisation as a major specialisation in his post graduate studies.

Khaemba also brought on board Bishop Julius Mbagaya who  contested for the Kiminini parliamentary seat. Mbagaya is the new chief of staff taking over from Ronald Masindano.
It is through Mbagaya’s church  that the governor managed to secure a meeting of 700 church leaders within a notice of two days and before long, the message of ridding the county off corrupt dinosaurs was reverberating across all the main churches in the county

During the changes, Ndombi was moved to health where he replaced Simiyu. His position was taken by Kiiya who paved way for Wanyonyi at the agriculture docket
Ndombi’s exit marked a proper reorganisation at a sector where corruption and mediocrity was the order of the day.
Under Ndombi-Wanyonyi nexus, tricksters taking advantage of the governor’s determination to open up all rural roads employed all manner of tricks to rob the taxpayers.
“We saw the employees pay bogus contractors for services not rendered at exaggerated prices obviously under instructions from senior officers in the county public works office and the finance department,” disclosed a worker conversant with the ongoings.

The source said the same officers routinely passed roads done by the Kenya   Rural Roads Authority and Kura as those advertised by the county government and paid bogus contractors who later shared the spoils.
Such were the investigations that led Khaemba to make the changes at the two departments of public works and finance at the increased risk to kicking out his former cronies.