Bosses at the Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) are uneasy after several senators called for a lifestyle audit on them.
KeNHA and other road agencies, i.e. Kenya Urban Roads Authority (KURA) and Kenya Rural Roads Authority (KeRRA) have been on the news for all the bad reasons.
Accusations of tribalism, nepotism and corruption where projects are awarded based on who pays the highest kickback is the order of the day at KeNHA, KURA and KeRRA. These ends up attracting construction firms which do shoddy works and walk scot-free.
On the first allegations of tribalism and nepotism, Nominated Senator Petronilla Were wants the Senate Roads and Transportation committee to order the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) to probe KeNHA.
Top officers at KeNHA are being investigated by the Assets Recovery Agency over suspect cash flows in their accounts.
In her statement, Were also wants the nine-member panel to initiate a probe on allegations of procurement irregularities and governance malpractices at KeNHA.
“The committee should establish whether or not KeNHA followed the procurement procedures as outlined in the Public Procurement laws in the awarding of a tender for the construction of the Webuye-Kakamega Rd Kenha/R6/181/2020,” the senator said.
The statement was directed at the committee chaired by Kiambu Senator Kimani Wamatangi.
“Expand their investigation to all the tenders awarded in the last three years with the aim to unearth other massive irregularities in the recent past,” she added.
Were’s allegations come hot on the heels of a heated debate on the floor last week where lawmakers criticised Transport, KeNHA and other roads agencies for failing to supervise contractors thereby leading to substandard, stalled and incomplete projects.
The senators claimed that despite billions of shillings spent on mega infrastructure projects, some of them had developed cracks and while others are in sorry states, barely two years after their completion.
They called for a complete audit of all the infrastructure projects undertaken by President Kenyatta’s administration since it was elected.
“When you look at the issue of most of the projects that have been undertaken in the country, there has been inadequate oversight by the relevant agencies,” Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei claimed.
“It is sad that the cowboy contractors that were famous in the yesteryears are now on the loose,” he added.
According to Cherargei, KeNHA, which is responsible for the development, rehabilitation, management and maintenance of all national trunk roads, has not been maintaining their roads.
Kitui Senator Enock Wambua said some projects had either stalled or are incomplete because proper feasibility study was not carried out before the construction commenced.
According to him, it would serve the country better if proper feasibility studies are carried out before construction commences so that Kenyans get value for their money.
“It is appalling to hear that less than two years after billions of shillings were sunk into it, it has cracks and landslides are blocking some sections of it,” he said of the Dongo Kundu bypass.
Machakos Senator Boniface Kabaka apportioned the big blame on Kenyan engineers, especially civil, structural and mechanical engineers, whom he claimed issue certification for completion of these roads.
Kabaka has also proposed that the Penal Code be amended, so that criminal liability be preferred against errant professional engineers and associate professionals.
“They will not only be surcharged but also face a stiff penalty of even 50 years and above,” Kabaka said during the debate last week.