Kenya has over the years lost numerous arbitration cases for breaches of public contracts, exposing taxpayers to huge losses due to damages and penalties.
It is not surprising therefore to see disclosures by the State Department of Infrastructure that roads agencies are sitting on Sh9.7 billion worth of court penalties for contravening the terms of contracts.
These penalties compound over time, and will one day be realised in the form of a large payout from the Treasury.
Sterner action is therefore needed to stop the flagrant flouting of contracts in these departments.
The biggest problem has been a lack of accountability on the part of officials whose actions lead to this unnecessary liability of taxpayers.
It will help if the government goes beyond taking responsibility for the breaches as a body corporate, and extend the penalties to individuals, who can then be charged in court themselves for their personal role in the messes they oversee.
This way, the concerned officials will feel compelled to exercise duty of care when entering into contracts or failing to adhere to the agreed terms.