Balala warns KWS team over claims of Sh1 billion misuse
Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala has cautioned the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) procurement team over alleged misappropriation of Sh1 billion.
Speaking during the launch of KWS Corruption Perception and Experience Survey, the CS expressed concern that the agency receives Sh1 billion annually for roads, but they are still in poor condition.
“With such a huge amount, it is unfortunate that when you go to our parks, there are almost no roads,” he said.
KWS manages about eight per cent of the total landmass in Kenya consisting of 23 national parks, 31 national reserves, six national sanctuaries, 10 marine national parks and national reserves.
“We are working with the board and the management on how to make sure the money is used prudently,” said Balala.
The CS warned the procurement team of harsh times ahead if they fail to address and come clean on the irregularities on roads upgrading and maintenance.
The graft survey found that in the procurement department,12 per cent of staff acknowledged it (corruption) was acceptable. Twenty four per cent said sometimes it was acceptable, 12 per cent usually acceptable while 46 per cent said it was not acceptable.
The corruption perception survey also highlighted the levels of human resource acceptance of substandard goods, asking or receiving money or gifts, misuse of KWS assets, among others.
Balala commended rangers who are keeping poachers at bay but warned those working with them are equally liable.
He added that Kenya has no option but to confront corruption head-on by fully deploying the international agreements created to combat corruption in the wildlife sector.
Wildlife corruption is propelled by customs and police officials who receive bribes, forge logging and hunting licences, and set free poachers and wildlife traffickers due to obstructed prosecutions.
The survey launch coincided with the International Anti-Corruption Day and was attended by KWS director general Brig (Rtd) John Waweru, KWS board chairman John Waithaka, and Tourism PS Fred Sigor, among others.
“I urge people everywhere to continue to work on innovative solutions to win the battle against corruption and to ensure that precious resources serve the peoples of the world,” said UN secretary general Antonio Guterres.
In developing countries, according to the United Nations Development Programme, funds lost to corruption are estimated at 10 times the amount of official development assistance.
Heather Merritt, Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, US Department of State, who was also present at the event termed corruption as a critical link that enables wildlife trafficking and organised crime to flourish.
She, however, commended Kenya Wildlife Service for making strides in improving controls and closing gaps that allow corruption to take place.
“Wildlife trafficking...pushes protected species to the brink of extinction, threatens security and stability, undermines the rule of law, and increases the risks of disease,” she said.