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Counties

Vihiga to spend Sh80m on governor’s residence

Vihiga governor Wilbur Ottichilo is sworn in on August 21. PHOTO | ISAAC WALE
Vihiga governor Wilbur Ottichilo is sworn in on August 21. PHOTO | ISAAC WALE 

Vihiga will spend Sh80 million to build a palatial home for Governor Wilber Ottichilo, a bill that is  equivalent to more than 80 per cent of its locally collected revenues.

The Sh80 million has been factored in the 2017/18 supplementary budget that is currently before the county assembly and meant for approval before Christmas recess.

The residence is planned on the outskirts of Mbale town that houses the county’s headquarters and it’s expected to be ready by 2019.

Dr Ottichilo had said he wants to live within Mbale town away from his private home in Emanyinya, Emuhaya Constituency, but argues the official residence will be used to host official functions and programmess he will preside over.

The county boss has been residing at Sosa Cottages located outside Mbale town since he was sworn into office on August 21.

He said he needed an official residence to enable him conduct official matters away from the office and his private home.

“My private home has to remain private. I need an official residence where I can conduct public issues and meet people,” said Dr Ottichilo.

Governor Ottichilo defended his stay at Sosa cottages, a palatial hotel, amid claims that county funds were being used to fund the stay.

“I am personally footing the bill from my pocket. No single county penny has been used to pay for my bills,” said the county boss.

But the Sh80 million budget may raise questions especially since Vihiga’s revenue collection has trailed targets.

In the year to June, it collected Sh96 million from such local sources like land rates and business permits against a target of Sh220 million.

The Sh80 million bill is double that of the planned Sh40 million house for Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi.

Former Governor Moses Akaranga did not build the residence even after the County Assembly approved a Sh50 million budget in 2014.

Instead, Mr Akaranga said he used the money to procure maize and beans for school feeding programme.

The programme, however, failed to kick off after bags of maize and beans procured by the county government at Sh11 million were declared unfit for human consumption.

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