The Kenya National Trading Corporation (KNTC) cannot store food crops in warehouses because they are leaking and in a deplorable state, a parliamentary team has been told.
KNTC told Parliament that the corporation has 10 warehouses which are in disrepair.
KNTC said its warehouses in Mombasa, Nairobi and Nakuru are leaking and that it had been forced to rent private go-downs to keep the subsidised fertiliser and other food commodities.
Purity Kimathi, a general manager told MPs that KNTC warehouses land in Kapsabet and Loita Street have court cases. It also has warehouses and land in Kericho, Nanyuki and Naivasha which are dilapidated.
KNTC, in 2020, received an additional mandate to undertake mopping up, warehousing and distribution of locally grown rice to the disciplined forces, government institutions and the general public under the Buy Kenya-Build Kenya strategy.
The corporation also has the mandate to promote wholesale and retail trade through the distribution of essential commodities within the country with flagship products including fertiliser, rice, assorted farm implements, and hardware among other general supplies.
“We have ten warehouses which are all dilapidated. Some have asbestos roofing, leaking roofs and others in a poor state which are not fit for food storage,” Ms Kimathi told MPs during the scrutiny of the Supplementary Budget NO 1 of 2022/23.
“We have been forced to lease warehouses in places like Mombasa and Nakuru when we have our own.
Asbestos was banned by the national government in 2006 but most buildings continue to have dangerous roofing materials that are alleged to cause cancer.
Ms Kimathi asked MPs to increase the budget for renovating the 10 warehouses arguing the Sh110 million that the Treasury has allocated in the mini-budget is a drop in the ocean.
“We need to renovate all our warehouses which we use to store relief food, food procured for use by our armed forces, police, prisons and schools including university, secondary and primary,” Ms Kimathi said.
Ms Kimathi said KNTC sought Sh90 million to repair Karatina and other warehouses but only got Sh20 million in the current budget.
She said the corporation spent its internally generated revenues to repair the Kisumu warehouse which it uses to store rice and other essential commodities.
“This morning I was struggling to order the purchase of polythene bags to cover the fertiliser subsidy in our leaking warehouse in Nakuru to prevent them from crystalising,” she told the committee chaired by Embakasi North MP James Gakuya.
Ms Mutua told MPs last year that the KNTC received Sh660 million in the last financial year to buy rice from Mwea and Kisumu and distribute it to government institutions at subsidised rates.