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Committee concerned over road contract delay

Eastern Regional Development Implementation and Coordination Committee (RDICC) is concerned that taxpayers will end up paying more money for the Makueni-Kitui-Migwani road than was anticipated following the standoff between the Kitui County Government and the contractor.
The County Government has stopped the contractor from proceeding with the work insisting that the contractor must pay market rates for hardcore and sand that contractors ordinarily acquired from their work environment in agreement with landowners.
Consequently, the Charity Ngilu-led government has struck the contractor with a Sh132 million bill for hardcore and sand that they say is a county government resource since it is extracted from below six feet underground.
The bill has left the contractor in a dilemma since October 1 when the work stopped after some of his lorries were impounded by the county government.
The contractor had all along been paying cess, a levy charged by the local authority but the county government insisted that they ought to pay the full cost of the local materials like they pay for cement and steel bars from outside the county.
The contractor has since finished the part of the road that is in Makueni County while the Kitui side remains undone.
Eastern Regional Commissioner Isaiah Nakoru chairing a meeting of the RDICC in Isiolo said the dispute needs to be resolved urgently because once the contract period ends at the end of this year, the contractor will start penalizing the client who is the National Government through           Kenya National Highways Authority, for time delays that could end up running into millions of shillings more than was budgeted for the road.
Previous efforts to reconcile the county government and the contractor facilitated by National Government officials at the county failed after the county government refused to yield on any of their demands.
Nakoru said giving in to the county government’s demands would set a precedent that would greatly increase the cost of government projects and therefore negatively impact on the country’s infrastructure development program.
By Steve Gatheru

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