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Citizen Weekly

Sunday, 14 September 2014


With the constitution demanding a sizeable chunk to local constructors under the devolved units in county government, members of the public and local constructors in Bungoma county are up in arms over the slow completion of bitumen roads in town.

According to sources in the department, all the major roads were deliberately underquoted through procurement so that the local contractors can fail to complete the work and the contracts re-awarded to cronies of the roads executive committee member.

It is claimed that there is only one company associated with the CEC member which supplies bitumen in the entire county for roads construction.
Cidien Construction Company supplies bitumen at a cost of Sh2.5 million per kilometre and yet the same bitumen cannot be sold to any contractor constructing a road less than a kilometre, yet over five contractors were awarded construction of less than 500 metres along hospital road in Bungoma town.

A case in point is the DC’s residence – Hospital road, bus stop- Catholic road and Kiwanja Ndege – DC residence road which reveals that one of the major local contractors was given a road detailing only 300 metres. For a contractor to finish this road he had to pair up or simply pack and leave the site. Simple mathematics is that if you a contractor was given a 500 metre road at a cost of Sh4 million then one would spend Sh2.5million on bitumen, before adding the cost of evacuation, muramming, culvating, labour and taxes which in return are less equivalent to the amount left not withstanding the kickbacks always demanded in such job contracts.

According to independent investigations that took over a month, the bitumen supply centre in Bungoma county where Cidien Company is involved, one has to deposit Sh1 million in order to be considered for as long as one month and a balance of Sh1.5  million paid before laying of the bitumen.

As the case is, most of the contractors are up in arms because this was a well-woven scheme to lock them out and favour one of the monopolist contractors in town who has now been given a longer stretch to cover.

Our research in Kimilili town confirmed that the only contractor who was supposed to lay the fast ever tarmac road in town has stalled. One of the foremen of the contractor said, “we have been waiting for bitumen for the past four months in vein, but the company has secretly been awarding a certain favoured contractor in Bungoma county, we are sad”.

In April this year, members of the county assembly unanimously passed a vote of no confidence in the CEC member, a decision which was not ratified by the governors as the CEC member obtained a court injunction blocking the decision.

They had accused him of betraying work on non-priority roads, awarding contracts to his cronies and demanding bribes among other things. Led by the leader of majority in the county assembly who is also the MCA for Khalaba ward Majimbo Okumu they said there is a lot of money that has not been used or was misappropriated by various ministries.

“Mr Speaker, it is really sad that the MCAs complain every now and then that roads in the areas they represent are in pathetic conditions while a lot of money is allocated to the same ministry which is unused,” said Majimbo. Chairman of the finance committee in the county assembly John Nanyakha said many sections in the 2013/2014 budget were overestimated, “It really hurts when less amount of money is utilised while the allocation is high and our health centres have no drugs, our roads are in poor state while some money has been allocated to projects that are not seen on the ground.”

He said the county government has failed to put in place mechanisms on revenue collection, failing to collect the amount that is targeted saying the money collected is benefiting a few individuals.
The county assembly also wanted the tendering process to be open and fair so that everyone can compete and the best bidder wins the tenders. According to the third quarter expenditure report for the year 2013/2014 of the budget, the ministry of roads, agriculture, livestock, fisheries and cooperative development were allocated Sh219,495,343 but only Sh43,971,121 was utilized
In a similar related case in the same industry involving county works officer, Reuben Ruto, and county quantity surveyor, Mary Gichuki, who openly favour a certain contractor in Bungoma town and who has a monopoly of jobs in Bungoma.

One contractor, JK Construction Company, said key documents are plucked out from application files. The contractor said: “We are fed up with these people over their cunning in favour of one company so that we are seen as under qualified”.

Sources close to the governor’s office said there is a big mess because they don’t hand over jobs in time and cancel nonperforming contracts making it difficult for contractors to complete stalled projects or start new ones.