Fresh revelations by the National Treasury that 545 projects worth Sh365.9 billion have stalled are not only disturbing but continue to paint government and technocrats in bad light.
The projects strewn across the country have either been abandoned, underfunded or neglected despite contractors having pocketed Sh72.4 billion part of the projects cost. Given their magnitude, the white elephant projects can be equated to acts of economic sabotage.
It must worry every Kenyan that some projects gobbled up close to a third of the amount the taxman collected last year, yet they have not had intended impact on their lives. It’s an open secret that in Kenya, behind every stalled project is a cartel that enriches itself from government coffers.
An audit of such projects was the first order of business for a committee of all Cabinet secretaries chaired by Interior CS Fred Matiang’i and is expected to reveal where the rain started beating Kenya.
As the relevant agencies strive to establish those responsible for the rot, the audit should also outline how to avert such impunity going forward. In the meantime, contractors behind stalled works have been ordered to complete them within 90 days.
To realise national objectives, only quick acceleration of projects will help spur growth and provide jobs for millions of unemployed youth. Efforts that derail this cardinal goal must be called out.
Efficient coordination and administration of National government development programmes and projects is critical. The National Development Implementation and Communication Cabinet Committee, chaired by Matiang’i, should identify challenges hampering effective execution of projects. It must also come up with guidelines to address the challenges.
The government may want to consider real-time monitoring and evaluation to ensure resources allocated are properly utilised and set goals realised on time. More importantly, having identified projects under the Big Four agenda, there is need to foster greater coordination and harmonisation in the implementation of development programmes.
This will help deal with wastage and the habit of government agencies abandoning incomplete projects before jumping onto new ones.
It will also deal a blow to cartels leveraging stalled projects to siphon taxpayers cash. State officials tasked with overseeing projects should be surcharged if they are responsible for delays.