Mercy Mwai @wangumarci
Fresh details emerged yesterday of how 18 individuals were paid more than Sh2 billion within a month after supplying maize to the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) at the expense of farmers.
Documents tabled before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chaired by Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi show that the individuals pocketed the money despite them having failed the vetted.
The document prepared by internal auditors of the Agriculture and Irrigation ministry, shows that some of the individuals were paid more than Sh250 million within seven days of delivering maize to the board, yet farmers were forced to wait up to six months to get paid.
Documents also show that one individual was able to sell their maize in more than two depots with the worst affected areas being Eldoret and Kisumu depots.
The papers presented to the committee by the State Department for Crops Development Permanent secretary Richard Lesiyampe expose a well-choreographed skim in which the individuals who supplied maize in Eldoret, Moi’s Bridge, Kitale, Kisumu, Bungoma and Nakuru depots were expeditiously paid huge amounts of money while genuine farmers were left to wait.
Appearing before the committee, the PS admitted that although they have singled out the 18 members, there could be a network of top individuals who are behind the 18 individuals.
Lesiyampe, who was at pains to explain how the traders managed to penetrate the market yet all farmers are known, also admitted that some of the staff at the board colluded with the traders in inflicting misery on the farmers.
“Some of the traders who received the maize were either paid between seven and 18 days while the small-scale farmers who deserve were paid after five months. It is sad that out of the 40,000 farmers, this morning we paid 36,000 of them yet the maize was supplied last year,” he said.
The committee was also shocked to learn that the country lost 754, 015 bags of maize worth Sh1.7 billion during President Kibaki’s regime after all the maize was infested by weevils for overstaying in silos for more than seven years.
And in the list submitted to the committee among the highest paid person is a an individual known as Celestine Chepchirchir who has so far been paid Sh333 million out of the Sh395 million that she is supposed to receive for 226,108 bags of maize supplied to the Eldoret Depot, followed by Caroline Chepchumba, who is supposed to get Sh216 million for 121, 617 bags of maize, Stephen Kiprobmaiyo, Sh191 million for 109, 506 bags and Paul Kipyego Marus Sh124.8 million for 14, 735 bags.