18 June 2019

Kenya: Storm Over Sh18m Embakasi Swimming Pool

Kenyans paid for the construction of a Sh18-million swimming pool at Umoja 1 Primary School in Nairobi, an expenditure that is now raising eyebrows.

The pool was among projects funded by the Embakasi West Constituency Development Fund, under the leadership of Jubilee MP George Theuri, in the 2015/16 financial year.

In that year, according to a report by Auditor-General Edward Ouko, contracts for three construction projects and a youth training were procured through restricted tendering.

SUSPICIOUS PROJECTS

These are Umoja 1 Primary School swimming pool (Sh18,893,518), three classrooms at Supa Loaf Primary School (Sh8,070,944) and driving classes for Embakasi youth at Top Gear Driving School (Sh9, 580,000).

During the audit by Mr Ouko's office, no documentary evidence was produced to support restricted tendering, as spelled in law.

Section 102 of the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act of 2015 allows restricted tendering if: Competition for contract, because of the complex or specialised nature of the goods, works or services is restricted to prequalified tenderers;

The time and cost required to examine and evaluate a large number of tenders would be disproportionate to the value of the goods, works or services to be procured; and If there is evidence that there are only a few known suppliers of the whole market of the goods, works or services.

In his 2015/2016 reports, Mr Ouko raised questions about the cost and value of these projects.

And the Concern Citizens Kenya, a lobby group in Embakasi West Constituency, has also written to the anti-corruption watchdog (EACC) over the matter.

The local watchdog wants the use of Sh18 million on the pool investigated.

"We decided to write to EACC because as a community and residents of Embakasi West we feel Sh18 million for a swimming pool was exaggerated a lot," said Bradley Ouna leader of the Concern Citizens Kenya.

"The revenue from the pool is not properly accounted for since it is operational," added Ouna.

Residents interviewed by the Nation also claimed the pool is not worth Sh18 million as alleged by the CDF office.

According to swimming pool construction experts, there are two main types of pools that are done locally-- the freeboard and deck level / overflow pool.

The shells for the PVC liner pools cost from Sh800,000 for an eight-metre by four metre pool up to Sh2 million for a 15 by 13-metre pool.

This cost, however, does not include the accessories or excavation fee.

The cost of the installation equipment, excavation, as well as the assembly costs an additional Sh800, 000 to Sh1. 5 million depending on the size of the pool.

"When budgeting for a pool, a large one like the 25 by 13-metre pool, one should set aside between Sh9 to Sh10 million for the project," said an expert at Kisio Swimming pools in Nairobi.

This cost is inclusive of the excavation, labour and materials. The swimming pool at Umoja 1 Primary Pchool is 25 by eight metres.

The pool was built on Umoja 1 Primary grounds after an agreement between the school and the CDF office.

POOL USERS

According to our sources, the school was to give out a piece of their land for the pool and in return, pupils would swim for free.

In the plan, the children would access to the pool using a different entrance from the public. The school would also get a percentage of the revenue generated from the facility.

But the Nation has learnt that, since the swimming started operating in 2017, the school has not received its share of the revenue.

Additionally, the pupils of Umoja 1 Primary pay Sh100 per swimming session, just like the public.

When the Nation visited the pool, there was no way to differentiate a pupil of Umoja 1 Primary from the public.

During our visit, we were accompanied by a pupil and upon identifying herself, she was still asked to pay.

CONCERNS

"Our children are paying for the swimming sessions yet when the idea was shared the first time during AGM we were told because it's on the school compound, our children would have free access," a parent at the school, who sought anonymity fearing reprisals, told the Nation.

But on top of being charged, the children do not have a special access to the facility.

They have to walk out of the school compound and use a busy road and are exposed to the danger of badly driven matatus.

"It is really risky for the kids to access the pool, they have to leave the school compound and walk to the pool," another parent said on condition of anonymity.

"This road is very dangerous for our kids, the Matatu are carelessly driven."

But the head-teacher of the school, Mrs Frolence Muli, denied the claims.

REVENUE

"The students have never paid for swimming session plus the school has really benefitted from the revenue collected from the pool," she told the Nation.

"The revenue collected has helped in renovating 8 classes so far."

The residents are also questioning the Sh9,580,000 expenditure at Top Gear Driving School.

The money was paid to the driving school for the young people of Embakasi West to undergo driving training.

It is not clear just how many people might have benefitted from the driving classes.

Currently, lessons to driver a Class B vehicle (car) at Top Gear costs approximately Sh20, 000 per person.

With Sh9,580,000 and each student paying Sh20,000, the school should have trained close to 480 students.

However, no list of students who attended the training was presented to Mr Ouko's team for audit.

Efforts by Nation to reach Mr Theuri, proved futile with all calls and text messages going unanswered.

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