Disparity in the cost of public projects worrying
Authorities must get to the bottom of the matter and press for punishment of culpable officials should there be any case of misappropriation of tax money.
EDITORIAL: Disparity in the cost of public projects worrying
Kenya has in the last 10 years pumped billions of shillings into capital intensive projects. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Many are the occasions when projections made by contractors differ from assessments by financiers and quantity surveyors. However, when the difference comes in billions of shillings, that raises eyebrows, especially where taxpayers’ money is involved. The current imbroglio over the true cost of the 435-kilometre Loiyangalani-Suswa transmission line is a case in point. The Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (Ketraco) has changed the tune to claim that the project would cost Sh28.9 billion just months after it quoted a price tag of Sh30bn in May last year. That represents a huge gap of Sh1.1 billion.The Treasury, the custodian of the country’s finances, has a higher figure of Sh36bn while the Energy ministry puts the project’s cost at Sh33 billion. All these figures have been disclosed to Parliament by officials speaking under oath. The big question is: who could be responsible for these variations, and to what end?Kenya has in the last 10 years pumped billions of shillings into capital intensive projects, among them roads, railway lines, ports and energy. Just like roads and railways, the multifaceted nature of energy projects implies that assigning actual cost to its various components can be complex. Think of power transmission over a 435km stretch between Loiyangalani to Suswa, for instance. Apart from the actual building of powerlines, the project implementers have acquired land and compensated title holders.The project, for instance, includes a wayleave compensation component that claimed up to Sh2.8 billion out of the total project cost. It is not immediately possible to determine the reason for the project cost variation and as such, the public can only hope that the Ketraco case resulted from an innocent mistake or failure by one hand to find out what the other is doing.We are, however, aware of the unfortunate cases where some unscrupulous officials fleeced unsuspecting taxpayers of monumental sums of money while hiding their evil intentions in the complex maze of numerous transactions, some of them dubious. The MPs must get to the bottom of the matter and press for punishment of culpable officials should there be any case of misappropriation of tax money.