Despite the current economic challenges facing Kenyans, the government is determined to maximize the use of tax payer money needed to complete some of Kenya’s stalled projects. The Kenya National Examinations Council (KNEC) is lobbying the Treasury to review the budget for completion of the stalled Mitihani House after allocation of just Sh270 million instead of Sh1.5 billion for Phase 6 of the project.
Chief executive Paul Wasanga said that the whole project initiated 27 years ago at an estimated cost of Sh248.93 million will require about Sh3.3 billion to complete. He said the project, entailing construction of six floors each for blocks A, B and C, will require Sh832 million in the current financial year.
“Out of this allocation, the Phase 5 which is ongoing will require Sh472 million and Phase VI will require Sh360 million,” Mr Wasanga told the parliamentary Public Investment Committee (PIC).
Mr Wasanga expressed concern that further stalling of the project would escalate costs. The New Mitihani House was intended to have a printing complex capable of printing all the exam papers as well as house the entire secretariat. The council prints examination materials overseas.
The council, with a staff of 431, is housed in six different premises including National Bank, National Housing Corporation, Extelcom, Industrial Area, South C and Caledonia on Denis Pritt road in Nairobi.
Mr Wasanga said the award of works for the construction of Phase VI in August at the contract sum of Sh1,499,989,252 had necessitated the budget to be reviewed and asked Parliament to allocate more money under the supplementary budget.
The examinations chief said that Sh360 million is required to complete Phase V and that the current budgetary allocation of Sh270 million is only 18 per cent of the awarded amount for Phase VI and will not help much towards the completion of the project.
Mr Wasanga recounted several challenges facing the project including delays in paying contractors due to limited budgetary allocations. The examinations body has proposed the project funds be wired to the KNEC account for ease of dispensation as opposed to channelling the same through the Education and Lands ministries.
Mr Wasanga asked Parliament to help it take control of the project from the Ministry of Lands and Urban Development for ease of supervision. “We would like to seek your support to have this project reverted to us as the client for ease of supervision and directions. The project currently being supervised by the former Ministry of Public Works has not moved as we wanted,” he said.
Sh900 million had initially been set aside in the last financial year and but the amount was later revised downwards to Sh400 million in the supplementary budget presented to Parliament early this year. The committee is investigating the expenditures of the council and has raised concern over continued delays in the completion and the cost on taxpayers.
“We are worried that the continuous delay in paying contractors for works done is attracting a lot of interest. We want you to provide us with the total amount of money so far paid to contractors as interest,” said Kimani Ichung’wa, the committee vice chairperson.
He questioned the provision in the Public Procurement and Oversight Authority Act requiring interest is paid contractors if payments are not made within 30 days of approval of payments.