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Contractors want senator to intervene over unpaid bills

A section of angry contractors and suppliers who allege the Garissa County government owes them Sh 1.9 billion as pending bills now want the area senator Yussuf Haji to intervene in the matter.
Addressing the press at a Garissa hotel Sunday, some 20 contractors drawn from across the county who claimed to have rendered services to the county during the previous regime, said Haji is yet to comment on the thorny issue, despite their numerous efforts to reach him for mediation.
Led by Abdirahman Ahmed, the agitated contractors said that senators from other counties have been putting pressure on their governors to account for funds allocated to them, but Haji has never uttered a word on the same.
“The senator should stop hiding behind BBI which the chairs, while turning a blind eye on the plight of the very people who elected him into that position. We want Haji to state his position publically on the issue of the pending bills,” Ahmed said.
“We have witnessed cases in the past where such monies are paid to undeserving contractors,” he added.
The contractors said that on several previous occasions, monies had been allocated to settle pending bills but not even a single penny went into paying them.
Another contractor Ajib Yussuf said that most of them have been struggling to fend for their families, while others risk having their property auctioned for defaulting on their loan repayment.
“Most of us here are barely surviving with an auctioneer’s hammer hanging on our heads, threatening to auction all our property including the houses that we live in. Surely did it have to get this far, while we have leaders whom we elected to defend our rights?” posed Yussuf.
“The government is here telling us to follow the guidelines and stay at home to stop the spread of coronavirus. How do you stay at home on an empty stomach, when you know that monies the county owes you have not been paid?” wondered the visibly angry contractor.
The contractors further urged the National Treasury to withhold funds allocated to the county by the national government until they pay them.
Last year, county governor Ali Korane said his administration was not in a hurry to pay pending bills it inherited from the previous administration.
His statement come after President Uhuru Kenyatta during the previous last year’s Madaraka celebrations directed all counties to pay contractors and suppliers who had genuinely rendered services.
However, National Treasury CS Ukur Yatani has noted with concern that departments and agencies in both the national and county governments have persistently failed to pay their outstanding bills.
Yatani said that delayed payments had led to a deterioration of the financial positions of businesses and SMEs with a negative impact on the economy.
The CS said that the government will henceforth withhold funds for counties that fail to pay contractors and suppliers who rendered services.
Contacted for comment, the county Executive for Finance Mohamed Roble said that the devolved administration has been paying the contractors since December last year depending on the allocation they receive. He urged the contractors to be patient.

By Jacob Songok

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