Nairobi — A parliamentary watchdog has launched investigations into the repair of roads in parts of Coast Province at the cost of Sh5 billion.
A matatu tackles a flooded street in Mombasa recently. Photo/LABAN WALLOGA
The 300-kilometre Malindi-Garsen-Hola road, whose initial cost was supposed to be Sh341 million but had consumed over Sh3 billion and is incomplete, is among those under probe by the Public Accounts Committee.
Controversy also surrounds the rehabilitation of roads in Mombasa Town, the Mombasa-Malindi and Likoni-Ukunda roads at a cost of Sh1.8 billion with the contractors being accused of doing a shoddy job.
The repairs, which were commissioned ahead of the World Cross Country Championships in Mombasa, had prompted a bitter exchange of words between Government spokesman Alfred Mutua and Roads and Public Works minister Simeon Nyachae.
The row started after Dr Mutua, who was the chairman of the inter-ministerial committee that oversaw the beautification of Mombasa ahead of the championships, ordered the arrest of contractors following complaints that the roads had become impassable less than three months after rehabilitation.
Mr Nyachae later condemned the arrest and threatened to resign if Dr Mutua "continues to overstep his mandate".
But the Coast Residents Platform has written to the attorney-general threatening to initiate private prosecution against contractors and government officials involved in the World Cross Country road rehabilitation projects.
Dhanjal and Brothers Limited of Mombasa was contracted to repair about 63 kilometres of the Mombasa-Kilifi road while Hayer Bishan Singh of Kisumu is working on the Kilifi/Malindi stretch of about 65km. S.S. Mehta is working on road sections in Mombasa Town and parts of South Coast.
Members of the House watchdog team who toured the Malindi-Garsen-Hola road last week were surprised that although more than Sh3 billion had been spent on the road from the initial Sh341 million, the repairs were incomplete.
The team comprising of MPs Daniel Khamasi, Wario Galgalo, Ochillo Ayacko, Norman Nyagah, Charles Keter, Peter Odoyo and Stephen Ondieki said the controller and auditor general had raised queries about the cost of the work.
"As far as the Malindi-Garsen-Hola road is concerned, we have established that about 74 kilometres of the contract work is incomplete and it needs more than Sh2 billion to be finalised although more than Sh3 billion has already been spent," said a report by the auditor-general.
He said the committee had also learnt that various variations had been undertaken on the project, the latest being one of Sh100 million to cover 5.5 kilometres of the unfinished road.
Mr Keter said the tender for the construction of the road was awarded to an international construction firm that sub-contracted the National Youth Service (NYS) to do the job.
The MP declined to give details concerning the committee's recommendations, saying, it would be against parliamentary standing orders. He said their findings would be made public once their report is tabled in Parliament.
And it has also emerged that the Sh1.8 billion allocated by the Government for the rehabilitation of roads at the Coast in the run up to the race was only for routine maintenance.
An official from the Ministry of Roads and Public Works in Nairobi said the funds were insufficient for major works and were only meant to make the roads passable.
The revelations come amid complaints by motorists, the business community and politicians that the pace of the rehabilitation was too slow.
They also demanded to know the scope of the contracts as most of the builders were only patching up potholes.
The official who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the ministry was looking for funds for total rehabilitation of the roads.
Currently, she said, the funds allocated for Mombasa-Kilifi (Dhanjal Brothers) about Sh574 million, Kilifi-Malindi (Hayer Bishan Singh) Sh484 million and Likoni-Ukunda (SS Mehta) Sh340 million is for repair and resurfacing.
"However, a consultant has evaluated the roads and indicated that it would cost Sh3 billion to reconstruct them," she said.
The Bahari MP, Mr Joe Khamisi, has expressed concern over the slow pace of repair of the busy Mombasa-Malindi highway.
"Leaders in both Kilifi and Malindi and even the entire North Coast region are not happy at the slow pace in which the contractors are implementing this road project," he said.
Additional reporting by Mazera Ndurya and Walker Mwandoto