EDITORIAL: Abandoning projects in counties wasteful

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A recent report by the Senate showing projects funded mainly by county governments to the tune of Sh346 billion have stalled across the country is quite alarming.

The projects include health facilities, schools, official residences and water supply installations. Even more distressing is that some of the projects were abandoned by the current crop of governors simply because they were started by their predecessors.

And the governors have gone ahead to launch their own set of projects, further draining public coffers in double expenditure.

There being no plausible explanation for this, one would be right to assume that the governors are merely playing politics, fearing that credit for completion of the projects would go to their predecessors, whom they view as their political rivals.

The other, more worrying explanation could be that the county government officers simply want to roll out new projects and have an opportunity to reap from the lucrative tenders, which have lately become the cash cow for “tenderpreneurs”.

This is unacceptable as it amounts to gross misuse of public funds. It denies Kenyans, especially populations in the rural areas, a chance to enjoy the fruits of devolution through timely completion of projects meant to make their lives better.

It also amounts to playing cheap politics with the lives of the citizens, who look up to the county governments to deliver crucial services to them.

This is why we support a proposal by the Senators to stop county governments from launching new projects when other similarly important ones are yet to be completed. We need tight management of county resources and, in particular, control of projects.

They should never be done whimsically.

There should be guidelines on timelines for project launch and completion. As a minimum, projects must be completed within the five years of an administration and payment promptly made to contractors who complete their work to required standards.

Governors must understand that funds allocated for counties are meant to benefit residents. They are not a tool for political patronage and amassing wealth for themselves and their cronies.

The Senate must now put its foot down and stem the wastage and profligacy that have been the hallmark of county governments since devolution began in 2013.

Since some of these are captured in the Auditor-General’s reports, we demand action to stem the pervasive misuse of public resources.

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