The government has cut funding to the Lamu-Garissa road, one of the projects that received the Sh15 billion hurriedly released a few days before the August 2022 General Election.
The new budget documents show the controversial Lamu- Ijara- Garissa road, which was allocated Sh2.87 billion in the current financial year, will only receive Sh75 million in the new financial year, showing a change of heart by the President William Ruto administration.
The cut came even as the new government increased the roads kitty three times to Sh239.5 billion in the next financial year starting July.
By the end of January, only 43 percent of the road had been completed, with the contractor delaying the construction due to increased attacks on workers by Al-Shabaab.
The road cuts through Boni Forest, a hideout for the terror group, that has disrupted the movement of goods and people.
In the current financial year, the project, which started in April 2021, had been allocated Sh2.87 billion.
The 257-kilometre road is being undertaken by the China Communications Construction Company Limited and is set to connect Kenya to Ethiopia, one of the objectives of the Lamu Port, South Sudan, Ethiopia Transport corridor project.
President Ruto’s administration has increased allocation for road projects in the upcoming fiscal year by more than three times to Sh239.5 billion, offering hope of payment to contractors owed billions in pending bills.
The completion of the upgrading of the Lamu-Ijara-Garissa road to an all-weather standard was one of the priorities of the previous administration.
It is to be built in three phases— the 257km Lamu-Ijara-Garissa section; 113km Hindi-Bodhei-Basuba-Kiunga section and 83km Ijara-Hulugho Road—at a total cost of Sh17.9 billion.
Other road projects that received additional funds just before the General Election include the dualling of Eastern Bypass (Sh5 billion) and the construction of Makupa Causeway (Sh1.85 billion).
In the financial year 2023/24, the dualling of Eastern Bypass has been allocated only Sh330 million while the construction of Makupa Causeway has only been allocated Sh40 million.
The Ministry of Roads, Transport and Public Works and former Treasury Cabinet secretary Ukur Yatani had defended the decision to spend the additional funds days to the General Election.
Because the three projects were critical and had a bearing on security, the expenditure of the additional funds was made on the recommendation of the National Security Council.
“The three projects as of March 2023 still have outstanding ongoing works within the contract which has not been paid,” the ministry told the National Assembly’s Public Petitions Committee.
Article 223 of the Constitution allows the Treasury to spend on emergencies without the approval of the Parliament.
The law demands that the Treasury table a mini-budget two months after withdrawing funds from the Consolidated Fund without the approval of MPs.
In a mini-budget for the current financial year ending June, the Kenya Kwanza administration slashed the roads budget by Sh47.29 billion to Sh77.94 billion as part of the austerity measures aimed at reducing the budget deficit.
However, a Summary of the Budget Estimates shows that spending on road projects in the financial year 2023/24 has been substantially increased, with more than a third of the allocation going to the construction of new roads and bridges.