How Busia County bought a Sh10 million truck from no one

Busia Governor Paul Otuoma did not expect Senator Okiya Omtatah to take the time to search the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) website for the ownership details of a dilapidated refrigerator truck that the county had purchased for Kes10 million.

The vehicle, KCA 299X Isuzu Lorry/Truck 2264000, which has completely depreciated to a jalopy and is parked at the County Commissioner’s Offices in Busia Town, lacks ownership details.

The meticulous Senator Omtatah went further to inquire from Isuzu Kenya about the cost of a new truck, only to be informed that it costs half as much, just Kes5.5 million.

The truck was part of a county facility of Kes40 million meant to upgrade the operations of the Bunyala Fishermen Cooperative Society. Although the facility allowed for the purchase of a new 7-ton refrigerated truck, the used 2.5-ton truck in question was supplied instead, leading to the cooperative rejecting it and the current state of affairs.

Dilapidated refrigerated truck

“I have received information from members of the public alleging that the current County Executive of Busia has paid more than Kes10 million for a dilapidated refrigerated truck, which the last administration had refused to pay because it was an irregularly procured used vehicle,” said Senator Omtatah.

In a letter to the office of the Auditor-General, the Busia senator is demanding a special audit of the county beyond the truck and wants Ms. Nancy Gathungu’s office to probe several infractions that the Senator claims are being used to siphon money out of the county.

The Senator wants the Auditor to probe the procurement of the digital revenue collection company WebTribe, which he claims was done irregularly, despite the company ‘being accused of pilfering huge amounts of funds it collected for several county governments, including Nairobi City, Meru, and Kajiado, which hired its services. Web Tribe has also had run-ins with the law over funds it collected for the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF).’

Busia Governor would also need to explain alleged fraud in the renovation of his lounge for Kes29.9 million, yet the same lounge was renovated by the previous administration for Kes5.6 million.

What sparked the interest of the Senator in what he calls ‘ghost renovations’ is that he was hosted at the lounge just three months ago, and it had already been renovated.

“It is instructive that the lounge had just been fully renovated when, on 11th August 2023 (just six weeks from 30th June 2023), other elected leaders and I were invited and met at the lounge with H. E. Dr. Paul Nyongesa Otuoma, the Governor, after the ground-breaking ceremony conducted by then Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria for the County Aggregation and Industrial Park (CAIP) at the Nasewa Nucleus Estate, in Matayos Subcounty, Busia County,” Senator Omtatah said.

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Procurement investigations

The Senator says the ghost project has alerted him to launch his own investigations into similar procurement for the construction of a trailer park at Mundika, civic works at the ATC frontage, the construction of perimeter walls at the Department of Works, and the reconstruction of the Busia Stadium, which he believes are equally opaque and secretive procurements by Busia county.

According to the Senator, Busia county’s move to demolish nearly half of the town was also done through opaque tendering that saw Kes40 million moved to the Department of Lands and Housing under the Urban Development Vote in the September 2022 Supplementary Budget, and Kes160 million allocated in the county’s FY 2023/2024 budget in a very opaque and secretive way, ostensibly for the beautification of Busia Town.

Senator Omtatah said contrary to the law, the county executive did not openly and competitively identify the entities it contracted to demolish targeted kiosks and carry out related/resultant works in Busia Town.

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