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Economy

Dilapidated Kenya embassy buildings to get Sh700m facelift

Edward Ouko
Auditor- General Edward Ouko. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

It will cost taxpayers Sh700 million to renovate diplomats’ homes and offices in Washington D.C, London and New York as their poor state force ambassadors to rent premises.

The Treasury, in budget documents before Members of Parliament for review, says it will spend Sh250 million to renovate the high commissioner’s residence in London, Sh250 million (Washington D.C properties) and Sh200 million for New York homes and office.

Foreign Affairs ministry has recently indicated a change of plan from lease of space to property purchase as rental costs for embassies and consulates shoot to billions of shillings annually.

Diplomats in London and New York have been forced to rent homes as residences built by taxpayers fall apart due to neglect, the Auditor-General revealed last year.

Edward Ouko’s audit paints the sorry state of affairs in the country’s foreign missions and singled out the Kenyan embassies in Washington D.C, New York and London—which are the most prestigious diplomatic missions. This has forced the diplomats to rent homes in some of the world’s pricey cities, pushing the missions’ leasing costs to above Sh2 billion.

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“No proper justification has been given for leasing residential houses considering that the Government of Kenya has houses for the ambassadors in New York and London except for failure to maintain these properties in habitable conditions,” said Mr Ouko.

“An expenditure of Sh2.3 billion on lease of properties abroad could have been minimised if there was a clear policy on purchase or construction of government-owned properties for the missions.”

A recent parliamentary report said the building hosting the Kenyan Embassy in Washington D.C has greatly deteriorated. Compared to neighbouring structures, the property stands out as a neglected unit.

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