Reports that the headquarters of the Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) is only 59 percent complete 30 years after the construction began have taken many Kenyans aback. Equally outrageous is the revelation that a significant chunk of taxpayers’ money is spent on avoidable costs such as interest on late payments for various aspects of the project.
That Knec is still unable to provide a road map on how it intends to complete the project initially planned to cost Sh1.49 billion confirms audit fears of cost escalation. What’s worse, more extraneous costs are looming.
The Auditor General has warned that Knec risks a legal suit after it terminated the contract of M/S Ongata Works, the firm it awarded the tender in 2003 to build Phase V of the New Mitihani House.
It is also worth noting that Knec has paid Sh818.4 million to the contractor when the value of certified works by March 10 project termination date was Sh891.4 million. This implies that interest charge could be accruing on the Sh73m that Knec is yet to pay, adding more pain to taxpayers.
In short, echoes of official apathy ring through the 30 years of this contract. A cabal of well-placed officials is either making personal gains from the sluggish process or they simply don’t care what the public thinks.
Kenyans are apparently paying heavily to keep officials in plum jobs yet the latter don’t seem to care whether the taxpayer is getting value for money.
This wastage of public funds is unacceptable. The State must get to the bottom of this delay and take remedial action once and for all. It is only by holding the culpable personally responsible and maybe compelling them to reimburse lost funds and sending them to prison that this project will ever move to completion.
The officials must also explain why out of Sh104 million paid for certificates presented to Knec by the project manager, a staggering Sh57 million accounted for interest charges that accrued as a result of delays in releasing payments.