A Kilifi County Assembly watchdog committee on Tuesday took officials of the County’s Education and Works departments to task over stalled projects worth more than Sh.172 million under the Education department.
The committee on Oversight and General Purposes grilled the County Executive Committee Member for Education, Prof Gabriel Katana and his Roads and Public Works counterpart, Dr. Josphat Mwatela for more than three hours over scores of stalled projects spread across the county.
At the end of the grilling session, the Committee chaired by Speaker, Jimmy Kahindi Kadhua said the Assembly would not approve any more funds to the two departments’ Development Votes until all the stalled projects are completed.
“The County Assembly will not approve any more funds to the two departments’ development account until all the stalled projects are completed,” Kadhua told journalists at the end of the session.
Members had wanted to know the reasons the projects had stalled and the actions taken against officers and contractors involved as it emerged some of the projects were initiated at the onset of devolution in 2013.
The summons to appear before the committee was triggered by a petition by Garashi Ward Representative, Peter Ziro, who sought a statement from the CECM to shed light on the stalling of the construction of Chumba cha Tsuwi Early Years Centre in Umoja area within the ward.
During the debate that ensued, many Members of the County Assembly (MCAs) raised similar complaints, leading to the issuance of the summons to appear before the committee chaired by Speaker .
Yesterday, Prof. Katana, who is also in charge of Information and Information Technology (ICT), sought to absolve himself from blame, saying most of the listed projects stalled before he was appointed the CEC member.
“When I assumed office, most of the projects listed had already stalled and I have been working towards their completion before embarking on new projects,” he said.
He said since 2013, his department had completed 331 out of the 432 projects and promised that he would ensure the remaining ones are also completed.
He explained that some of the projects had stalled due to lack of adequate funds after the funds were reallocated to emergencies while others had been abandoned by contractors for various reasons.
On his part, Dr. Mwatela, said his office lacked capacity to properly serve all the departments, and asked client departments to give his officers sufficient time to offer the services.
“My department has only two architects and two quantity surveyors and sometimes work is overwhelming,” he said adding, “The two quantity surveyors have to draw more than 400 bills of quantities (BQs) annually and this is overwhelming.”
He said some contractors had abandoned projects to demand their delayed payments, leading to the stalling of projects.
By Jemimmah Buya/Emmanuel Masha