OTIENO: Kenyans know housing project is a plan to loot

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If President Uhuru Kenyatta cared to listen, he would have by now realised that most Kenyans don’t believe his government can build 500,000 houses within three years to the end of his term in office.

They don’t trust the President and his government with their taxes to provide social housing either.

Not surprisingly, last week’s notice requiring employers to start deducting the 1.5 per cent housing levy from staff salaries at the end of April has elicited public outrage.

“Kenyatta has failed to build good houses for the police and the brave men who guard this country, and for some reason he says he will build houses for millions of us?” asked a social media commentator.

Another one wrote a template newspaper headline story to run sometime in 2021: “Auditor-General says Sh300 billion deducted from Kenyans for housing levy cannot be accounted for. Minister Macharia gets maximum Sh10,000 fine and two years jail term for embezzlement.”

Unfortunately, this might come to pass, if you consider the fact that just about every grand project that the Jubilee administration has come up with in the past has turned out to be an official fraud scheme.

Nothing demonstrates the pattern and the consequences of this fraud better than the current famine in many parts of the country.

The famine is being conveniently blamed on failure of the long rains, overlooking the looting that has undermined key food security and drought mitigation projects.

Mega dam and irrigation projects such as Arror and Kimwarer were sold as the magic bullet for the perennial droughts and food insecurity.

Construction of the two dams in Elgeyo-Marakwet County is yet to start two years since the contract was awarded to an Italian company now flirting with bankruptcy.

Worse still for the taxpayer, the projects are currently under graft investigations for the suspected loss of between Sh21 billion and Sh65 billion.

Billions of shillings similarly went down the drain at the one-million-acre Galana-Kulalu irrigation project in Tana River, which stalled at the model Israeli modern farm stage without yielding the promised bumper maize harvests.

The National Cereals and Produce Board, the agency responsible for procuring and distributing strategic food reserve stocks and farm inputs, is a known den of corruption where several managers are currently being prosecuted for theft and irregular payments.

Other recent grand government projects like the ones at the National Youth Service, the National Hospital Insurance Fund, Kenya Power and the Kenya Pipeline Company have more or less shown the same levels and patterns of corruption.

The fears that the new National Housing Development Fund, which has been created to deliver President Kenyatta’s social housing, will end up as another fraud scheme are therefore not misplaced.

And the law, which prescribes a light fine of Sh10,000 for embezzlement, reads like it was drafted by the dumbest of all thieves.

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