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Lake Basin officials probed over inflated Sh4.1bn Kisumu mall

 Lake Basin Mall
A construction worker does final touches at one of the walls of Lake Basin Mall in Kisumu in March. PHOTO | TONNY OMONDI 

The anti-graft agency has questioned senior officials at the Lake Basin Development Authority (LBDA) over irregularities in building of the Sh4.1 billion mall in Kisumu whose construction overshot budget a third.

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), in a week-long process that began on Tuesday and concluded on Thursday, targeted nine former and current board members to establish why its construction costs was varied by more than 33 percent or over Sh1 billion

Sources at the EACC said that the contact sum may have been inflated by “close to or more than Sh2 billion.”

Under procurement laws, variation should not surpass 15 percent of the contract value.

The nine former and current officials were invited for interviews and statement recording at the EACC Western regional offices in Kisumu through a letter dated November 12, .

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The letter received at the LBDA on November 13 listed directors; Earlie Ngani, Katherine Muoki and Jack Otana for questioning.

Others were; Mr Patrick Ouya, Steve Mwanga, Nelson Kifworo, William Omondi, William Murunga Jaluo and Abraham Koech.

EACC Western regional boss Ignatius Wekesa said the officials were required to give an account of what they knew about the implementation of the project.

"We are at the tail end of investigations. We wanted the officials to give us information that will enable us get the truth about the project works," said Mr Wekesa.

Specifically the EACC was interested in establishing whether there was value for money in all the contractual obligations in the construction of the mall and whether public funds were efficiently well utilized.

“They are interested in knowing whether the board was compromised in approving certain payments and whether the payments met standard rates,” said a board member after being questioned by the EACC sleuths.

The official pointed out that the EACC was also interested in getting as much information as possible that led to the “huge variation of the contract sum by more than Sh 1.6 billion.”

The probe comes in the wake of push and pull in the recent recruitment of LBDA managing director.

The Ministry of East African Community and Regional Development is also investigating whether the process was above board.

This follows a public complaint raised by Mr Chris Obel to the ministry through the Principal Secretary Susan Koech.

An internal memo by Dr Koech to the Cabinet Secretary; Adan Mohammed dated July 2 calls for investigations in regards to the shortlisting.

The memo titled; public interest complaint and request for investigation is also copied to the ministry’s Chief Administrative Secretary

Dr Koech recently confirmed receipt of the complaint and noted that it had been forwarded to the CS for action.

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