Laikipia County could lose up to Sh500 million to fictitious claims by contractors and suppliers, an ongoing audit has revealed.
Acting County Secretary, Karanja Njora, told a meeting called by the Assembly Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that out of the 908 pending bills inherited from the previous administration, 434 had no supporting documents, an indication that the contracts could have been issued verbally.
“We inherited a bill of Sh1.1 billion which we were expected to pay. But surprisingly, nearly half of the claimants do not have any document to pursue the payments and the money they are demanding from us is about Sh500 million,” Mr Njora told the PAC committee chaired by Umande Ward MCA Daniel Mugweru.
The team had summoned Mr Njora and Finance CEC Murungi Ndai to explain why Governor Ndiritu Muriithi’s administration was dragging its feet in paying for services rendered to the devolved unit.
Soon after taking over from former county boss Joshua Irungu last September, Mr Muriithi said he would only pay the claims after a full audit was done to establish the nature of work done and verify if procurement regulations were followed in awarding tenders and contracts.
The audit, though not yet complete, has so far revealed that some contracts were given verbally and that the cost of some projects were highly inflated.
Five officers from the Infrastructure and Finance departments have been interdicted and are being investigated by police.
“In one of the files from a the claimant, it is indicated that he rehabilitated 15 kilometres of road while a visit to the ground has revealed that only five kilometres was done. We shall only pay for the five kilometres,” Mr Njora told the committee, adding that the county government has started paying those that were found to have done genuine work as per their contracts.
Mr Mugweru and leader of majority Peter Thomi asked the county government to explain to the concerned the cause of the delay in payment arguing that some might interpret it as a witch hunt.
“We have resolved that respective MCAs will be accompanying the auditors to their wards to verify if indeed the contractors completed the work. Those who did as per the agreement deserve to be paid but those who got verbal contracts or failed to do the work do not deserve a penny,” said Mr Mugweru.