The construction the Sh6 billion Eldoret Southern By-pass project is expected to take longer than expected due to delays by the National Land Commission (NLC) to release funds to compensate families displaced to pave way for the implementation of the project.
The project was launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta in August 2017 and was expected to be completed by August next year to ease serious traffic snarl-ups that been witnessed in Eldoret town's central business district that connects North Rift to the neighbouring countries such as Uganda, South Sudan and Rwanda.
Some of the truck drivers who transport the goods along the route have complained over the slow pace at which the by-pass project has been undertaken.
This comes even as Uasin-Gishu county commissioner Hassan Abdi last week disclosed that most residents have not received payment despite the millions of monies being transferred to the NLC six months ago.
“It is six months since the money was transferred to the NLC and we have been engaging them to release the funds to allow implementation of this noble project,” he added, when he held public meeting with the beneficiaries.
The by-pass project that is funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB) in conjunction with the government meant to de-congest Eldoret town is now stalled at Maili Tisa on the Eldoret-Bungoma and Kitale highway as the land owners’ demand for the release of the compensation money.
The county commissioner said the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and Ethics and the Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) have launched probe into the individuals who were irregularly paid Sh153 million in the 32-kilometre bypass by-pass compensation payout.
‘The anti-graft agencies and security team will conduct fresh vetting after they unearth suspected fake list of individuals in the compensation pay-out,” said Mr Abdi.
He disclosed that 199 individuals in the Leseru-Kapseret-Cheplaskei corridor have been paid Sh153 million.
“I was given list of 74 individuals in Leseru who supposed to be paid. Out of this, 39 people have been already paid Sh11.9m with 35 individuals yet to be paid (Sh11 million). Yesterday, 44 people came to our office and complained they have not been compensated," said Mr Abdi.
He said the investigative team will carry out a head count for physical verification of individuals meant to receive the compensation money.
The commissioner said that they will crack the whip on individuals including government officers who were involved in suspected graft dealings.
“This project is the lifeline in the region and we will not allow anybody including government officers to delay its implementation through shoddy compensation process,” warned the commissioner.
“The government has stepped up fight against corruption and we want to tell anyone who has been irregularly paid to better return the money back before we get them and deal with them,” added Mr Abdi.
The implementation of the project is expected to open the western Kenya region to markets in eastern and central African region.
Construction work is expected to take 30 months.
Land owners have expressed concern over the slow pace of compensation and manipulation of the register to include fake list of individuals meant to benefit from the entire process.
“Land evaluation was done in 2016 and project launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta in August 2017 but we have not received any cash for compensation up to now.
“We have demanded list of beneficiaries from Lesuru to Cheplaskei but we have not received it...We don't know who are beneficiaries,” Simon Samoei, chairperson of the Cheplaskei-Leseru Land Owners’ Association.
“Contractor might demand to be paid extra money because of the delays in completing the project on time. . . and this money will come from the taxpayer cash," added Mr Samoei.
“[When] they clear the compensation, land will appreciate along the corridor,” Kipkorir Menjo, Chairperson Kokwatai Cooperative Society that has lost 28 plots to the project.