Transport and Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary nominee Kipchumba Murkomen has promised to make public the controversial Sh327 billion Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) contract Kenya signed with China.
Mr Murkomen, who has been nominated to the Ministry of Roads, Transport and Public Works, said he would ensure that Kenyans get to interrogate the document that he said remained a secret.
“If approved, I will look for the SGR agreement and make it available to the public because no one knows the contents of that agreement,” Mr Murkomen told the National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang’ula-led Committee on Appointments, which vets Cabinet Secretaries.
President Kenyatta had promised —on live TV— to make the contract public but failed to do so.
President Kenyatta made the promise on live television during an interview on the lawns of the State House, Mombasa, in December 2018. He had been questioned by Mark Masai of NTV.
But in April 2019, President Kenyatta’s then Chief of Staff Nzoika Waita changed the tune.
“To the fact of the matter is that the contract will not be released to Mark Maasai. So he shouldn’t be expecting it. The President did not lie (when asked about releasing the contract). He was counselled by the Attorney General who has guided that only the organisation with locus should request for an agreement that is signed by two institutions which are bound by confidentiality clauses and must go through the public audit process,” Mr Waita said on during an interview on KTN.
Mr Murkomen told the committee that he has a net worth of Sh550 million.
This, he said, comprises three parcels of land in Trans Nzoia, one parcel of land in Nairobi, Narok and Kajiado, a house in Nairobi and another one in Eldoret as well as vehicles.
Pending bill nightmare
Mr Murkomen promised to address a Sh140 billion pending bill nightmare in the ministry, even as he demanded quality.
“We will delist all shoddy contractors and make the list of contractors working on roads in the country available online,” he said.
On the port of Mombasa, he said: “Our port is doing well now but we are facing competition from neighbouring countries. On the management of the port, I will make sure we relook at the management structure because there are currently 14 deputies under the main MD of the port.”
He also said he will scrap the Road Annuity Programme.
The Roads Annuity Fund was established under the Public Finance Management (Roads Annuity Fund) Regulations, 2015 to provide capital to meet the national government’s annuity payment obligations for the development and maintenance of roads under the programme.
On the loss-making Kenya Airways, he said: “We will propose the creation of subsidiaries which can provide other services to raise more revenue.”
On the relationship between Kenya Rural Roads Authority (Kerra) roads and county roads, Mr Murkomen wants the separation of roles made clear.
“There should be signage to show which roads were done by which entity to avoid confusion and make sure one entity is not taking credit for roads they did not build,” he said.
He promised to address the viability of the Lamu port, as well as the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia-Transport (Lapsset).
“The Lamu port has already been completed but no goods are arriving at the port. The road connecting to the port is, however, a murram road not a tarmac road and my first responsibility will be to ensure the road is tarmacked,” he said.
Mr Murkomen insisted: “If we do not complete the project as soon as possible, Ethiopia may move to the Djibouti port.”
He promised to ensure the completion of the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) terminals.
“We have tents at JKIA serving as a terminal. If approved, I will look at reviving the building of the Greenfield terminal at the airport,” Mr Murkomen said.
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