Mercy Mwai @wangumarci
A contractor of the Sh7.3 billion Galana Kulalu project yesterday sensationally claimed that top government officials are working for its collapse.
The allegations came as a Senate committee ordered Auditor General Edward Ouko to conduct a special audit of one of the Jubilee administration’s food security projects and present the report to the House team in 30 days.
Appearing before the Senate Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries committee, the project contractor Green Arava and National Irrigation Board (NIB), the implementer, clashed over who is to blame for the project’s woes.
But Embu Senator and chair of the committee, Njeru Ndwiga, while giving the team’s verdict on the tussle between Green Arava and NIB said: “As senators we are in a dilemma on this matter and that is why we are ordering the auditor general to within 30 days carry out an audit of the project from the beginning to the end”.
Details tabled before the committee indicate that some government officials out of political interests planned how to kill the project by delaying its implementation after a stalemate developed between Green Arava and NIB over payment.
Part of the tactics used to frustrate the project include failure by NIB to carry out a thorough job in clearing the bushes on the site despite the government pumping Sh580 million for that.
Others include the scaling down the total cost of the project from Sh14.5 billion to Sh7.3 billion as well as the failure by NIB to fund the contractor to ship in machinery and equipment to be used for works on the project.
The new details came even as the senators learnt that the NIB is planning to disengage with the contractor and engage other firms to complete the remainder of the works valued at Sh989 million despite the government having already pumped Sh6.1 billion in to the project.
During the meeting between the committee, Green Arava and officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, led by Irrigation Principal Secretary Fred Segor, learnt that despite the government having paid Sh6.1 billion representing 80 per cent of the total cost, only 50 per cent of the work has been done on 5,200 acres out of 10,000 acres.
In his presentation before the committee Green Arava chairman Yariv Kedar took on NIB and accused it of slowly killing the project by not only delaying funding but also scaling the total cost of the project by half.
Kedar claimed that by scaling down the cost, NIB frustrated the entire project as it failed to provide funding for the acquisition of specialised sprays to protect the maize from armyworms, connectors for the drip system as well as the differing of the budget for students who were to be trained to take over the project.
According to him, they have not been able to develop the land fully as up to date they are trying to establish the best seedlings to be planted on the said piece of land after in the first season all the seeds were thrown out as they were not viable.
“The whole plan of Galana Kulalu project was destined to be killed but this has not been possible because the President has been involved in it. The project is not going on because there exists a plan to frustrate the implementation of the project,” he said.
But Segor, who defended the scaling down of the cost to enable the contractor to fully concentrate on the 10,000 model firm, claimed that it was Green Arava that was frustrating the process.
He added that the slow rate of implementation is because the contractor lacks capacity as he relies on advance payments to import machinery and equipment.