State House officials sank Sh89m in stalled project


State House in Nairobi: The National Assembly’s watchdog committee has recommended that some former State House officials be investigated by the anti-graft agency over unauthorised payments to a contractor. PHOTO | FILE

The parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has directed the Treasury to recover Sh88.8 million from former top State House officials, accusing them of authorising payments for a stalled project.

The watchdog committee also wants the officials investigated by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission and the Director of Public Prosecutions over their role in the award and payment for the abandoned works at State House.

“The committee recommends that accounting officers responsible for authorising irregular payment without proof of work done be surcharged for the full sum of public funds lost...” the committee chaired by Budalang’i MP Ababu Namwamba says in the 2012/13 PAC report.

The proposal relates to a contract to construct a workshop and a petrol station at a cost of Sh105 million, which commenced on May 2011 during the tenure of then State House Comptroller Nelson Githinji.

The 52-week contract was scheduled to end in May 2012 but the works stalled in June 2011, just one month after it began.

During its January review of the contract, the Auditor-General found that the contractor continued to receive payment without an inspection certificate even after Zachary Muburi-Muita succeeded Dr Githinji at State House from December 2012.

By June last year, the contractor had pocketed a total of Sh88.8 million or 85 per cent of the contract price for the work abandoned two years earlier.

“It was not clear how the State House handled the matter, considering that the contractor has not been issued with a default notice...” the PAC report says.

The committee says State House failed to produce evidence indicating that the contractor had executed a performance guarantee as required by the law.

Instead, the State House officials last year decided to turn the stalled project into office suites for presidential staff, further raising eyebrows.

The committee questioned how works customised for a workshop and a petrol station could be converted to offices at 85 per cent completion level which imply elements like fuel tank and pumps had been installed.

“The committee notes that the various transactions raised serious questions, breached regulations, compromised value for money and possibly occasioned loss of public funds,” says report.

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