Bungoma Governor Wycliffe Wangamati has been taken to task on how Sh11 million given to the county coronavirus response team has been utilised.
Senator Moses Wetang’ula on Thursday joined a number of ward representatives in demanding accountability in the utilisation of the funds. Addressing the press in Nairobi, Mr Wetang’ula said he is bothered by reports of mismanagement, adding that the devolved government should clear the air fast.
“I have received reports from the media and other sources of a possibility of misuse of public funds even as we are battling coronavirus. We are aware the fight against this virus requires funds. However, we demand transparency and accountability in the manner the Bungoma County government is using the money,” Mr Wetang’ula said.
According to the ward representatives, Mr Wangamati’s administration bought 600 20-litre jerrycans at Sh10,000 each.
The devolved government bought the containers to distribute to residents in a handwashing drive.
The Ministry of Health has called on Kenyans to wash or sanitise their hands in a bid to contain the spread of the virus that has killed more than 83,000 people globally.
Covid-19 has infected 184 Kenyans and killed seven, with hundreds in isolation.
According to Senator Wetang’ula, a jerrycan goes for Sh1,000 in Nairobi and Sh1,500 in Bungoma.
“Without a doubt, this is misuse of public funds and there is need for accountability on how they are allocated and used. I call on the relevant authorities, including the county budget allocation committee, treasury as well as the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate this matter swiftly,” Mr Wetang’ula said.
Addressing the press at the county assembly, the more than 20 ward representatives said that they have evidence that money taken from Bungoma County and Webuye referral hospitals to fight the pandemic has been embezzled.
During an interview at Sulwe FM on Monday, the governor said some money might have been misappropriated by officials in his administration, which the assembly should investigate.
“It is true that questions have been raised on how that money was spent, but once the assembly completes the investigations, we will take the necessary action,” Mr Wangamati said.
Correspondence seen by the Nation shows that acting Finance Chief Officer Jonathan Namulala borrowed Sh11 million from the two hospitals.
County Assembly Health Committee Chairman George Makari said it is unfortunate that the correspondence on how the money was used reveals glaring misappropriation.
“We wrote to the people concerned as an assembly committee and expected answers but they have not. This is the height of impunity. The documents in our possession show that money was misappropriated,” the Musikoma Ward Representative said.
His Lwandanyi counterpart Tonny Barasa said the files show the cost of a plastic jerrycan to be Sh10,000.
“Where in this world does one buy a jerrycan for such an amount? County government officials are playing with our minds when Kenya is in the middle of a crisis,” Mr Barasa said.
The devolved government Special Programmes department bought the jerrycans, water tanks and other material to be distributed to markets, shopping centres, matatu terminals, offices and a host of other public places last week.
Township Ward Representative Joseph Maguda said officials using the Covid-19 crisis to loot resources should be prosecuted.
This article was published by Daily Nation.