Kisii County Governor James Ongwae is on the spotlight over millions of shillings of taxpayers money that was lost in ghost projects during the early days of his first term which begun in 2013.
Kurunzi has established, through documents not independently verifiable, that at least KSh76,866,000.20 was lost through fraudulent procurement and tenders given to companies associated to the county boss, through his close allies.
M/S Deckland International and Westlife Construction Limited, both associated with Ongwae’s close ally – a Mr Papa Peters Gichana, received a combined sum of KSh51,866,000.20 for five tenders between 2013 and 2014 to undertake ghost projects.
Jo World, a ICT company, allegedly owned by Gichana’s kin was awarded a KSh25 million tender for internet installation and networking but no works were done. The tender was re-issued “to one Evans Mosomi”.
The damning details, which suggest the county may have lost up to KSh140 million if all the tenders in question were re-issued after the governor’s allies pocketed the money without any works, are contained in separate affidavits and letters to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations and the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Two whistle-blowers have sworn the affidavits and given the supporting documents to DCI, ODPP and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission.
The ghost projects listed are the rehabilitation of the Mashauri – Coop Bank walkway (KCG/QT/252A/2013/2014), repair, extension and maintenance of the drainage in Kisii town (KCG/QT/252B/2013/2014) and construction of a road in South Mugirango (KCG/T/02/2013/2014).
Another fraudulent tender was the construction of a modern slaughter house at Daraja Mbili market.
According to the whistle-blowers, who claim to have detailed information of how the scheme was executed say the monies were paid in advance and upon ‘completion’ of the work, variations were approved; in some cases, “over and above the initial contract amount”.
Mashauri-Coop Bank walkway
The initial amount allocated was KSh7,368,900.20 but a variation of KSh7,666,231 was approved despite no works being done.
The whistle-blowers allege minutes of a tender committee meeting were concocted on 29 May 2013 for the tender to start and it was apparently issued on 17 February 2014.
Papers were forged to have three companies, all associated with the governor’s ally (Peters Gichana), namely M/S Kiango General Supplies, M/S Charwins Limited and M/S Deckland International, which was awarded the tender.
The company was paid the contract sum (KSh7,368,900.20) and the variation (KSh7,666,231).
Kisii town drainage
This “fake project” was given to another of Papa Peters Gichana’s company – Westlife Construction Limited and a payment of KSh6,526,160 paid immediately.
A few months later, there were no works done and the tender was re-issued without due process. The initial contract was never cancelled and neither was there any advertisement calling for new bidders.
To date, there has never been any attempt to recover the money from Westlife Construction, part of which John Omingo (not his real name) – one of the whistleblowers says was given to Governor Ongwae in the form of kickbacks.
“I have all the evidence and know how the money was taken to (Governor) Ongwae in sacks,” he told Kurunzi.
The tender was later re-issued to Westlife Construction’s sister company (M/S Deckland International), who were paid a further KSh6,526,160 but still the project was never done.
Getare – Sare road (South Mugirango)
This road was to be constructed at a cost of KSh8,208,355 but after payment being made to Westlife Construction, the works stopped on the ground after two days and a variation (KCG/QT/656/2013/2014) of KSh3,201,194 was approved and paid.
The company received KSh11,409,549 for doing nothing on the road, whose construction was done by a new entity after the area MCA, who was then the deputy speaker of Kisii County Assembly put pressure on the governor.
It was a case of double payment for the same job as Saumo Construction Company eventually got paid to do the road.
Modern slaughter house
This was one of Governor Ongwae’s flagship projects and money was allocated on a priority basis.
M/S Deckland International were single-sourced for the construction of the slaughterhouse at a cost of KSh8,888,880 but despite the money being paid, there was no work done.
The slaughter house remains undone to date even after another company associated with Gichana (Jo World) was paid a variation of KSh3,480,120.
Evans Gesicho (not his real name), the other whistle-blower, says he felt guilty being a part of a scheme to defraud Kisii County residents and started collecting documents, which are the evidence he has gathered and will present to the DCI who he wants to take swift action against those involved.
“The governor has a very huge appetite for huge money from the county coffers and it really pained me when I saw what was happening,” he says.
“I know he will deny and try to cover up but the truth cannot be hidden for long because it will come out. He (Governor Ongwae) has really been trying to cover his tracks but this time around we want the people of Kisii County to get justice. This is their money being looted.”
Meanwhile, a source has told Kurunzi how the Kisii County government has withdrawn and spent millions of money from the emergency kitty in the name of floods mitigation under the guise that roads that have allegedly been swept away by flood waters require urgent repairs to facilitate movement of the people and goods.
“The rains have barely touched the ground and there are no reports of floods or roads being washed away but they are already drawing money. This man’s appetite is just too much and he must be stopped,” the source said.