Liwatoni funds stopped as EACC links project to graft

Thursday, April 29th, 2021 00:00 |
Workers at the construction site of the Liwatoni Fisheries Complex in Mombasa county. Photo/PD/File

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) is investigating graft allegations in the Sh1 billion Liwatoni Fisheries Complex project.

People Daily has learnt that construction has stopped, as the anti-graft body detectives commence investigations into allegations of procurement irregularities in the tender leading to award of contract.

“Kindly note that the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission has pursuant to its constitutional and statutory mandate, commenced investigations into allegations of procurement irregularities in the tender leading to award of contract,” said EACC chief executive Twalib Mbarak.

In a letter seen by People Daily dated April 1 and addressed to Fisheries, Aquaculture and the Blue Economy PS Francis Owino, Twalib requests the government to suspend payments to the contractor pending investigations. 

“We, therefore, advise that any payments related to the contract herein be suspended pending investigations,” adds Twalib.

This comes even as the government cancelled the proposed Ultra-Modern Fish Hub work at Liwatoni Fisheries Complex in Mombasa, citing allegations of possible corruption, paving way for thorough probe by EACC.

General conditions

According to a letter dated February 25 addressed to M/S Daniel’s Outlets Ltd by the Principal Secretary State Department for Public Works Gordon O. Kihalangwa, demanded that contract no MOALF & C/SD FA &BE/07/2020-21of the Proposed Liwatoni Fish Hub works at the Liwatoni Fisheries Complex be suspended.

“As directed by the employers and in accordance with section 8.9 of the general conditions contract, you are hereby instructed to suspend carrying out of the works with effect from 25 February  to allow employer time to appoint a replacement engineer and subsequent appointment of engineers representative,” the letter by Kihalangwa

Letter adds: “The suspension shall remain in force until resumptions are ordered under sub-clause 8.13, resumption of works by the new engineer whose appointment shall formerly be communicated to yourselves.” 

Cancellation comes after Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i toured the project in February, where he raised concerns over the pace of executing the project, which is regarded as a critical component towards the enhancement of Kenya’s Blue economy.

And as the events unfold People Daily has learnt that there has been push and pull between two government officials over who should lead the management of the construction process, a move that has sparked serious concerns over the vested interests.

Two government officials exchanged blows on the site, fighting over control of the project.

The two include Hilary Nyaanga, who is the chief structural engineer at the department, and the Works Quality Surveyor secretary Alphonce Okweto.

According to Police OB No 86/11/03/2021, one of the officials identified as Hilary Nyaaga, reported that Okweto assaulted him while he was attending a meeting at his office to discuss the project.

According to complaints presented to the PS, Rtd Major General Gordon Kihalangwa on March 3, Nyaaga expressed his displeasure with how Okweto treated him with disrespect and even assaulted him.

“We went to his office to discuss the report on Nairobi, HCCOC No.23 of 2018. At the door of his office, he turned back and shouted at me and he viciously grabbed me and pushed me down.

I fell on the desk of his secretary, hitting the lower part of my back with the edge of the table. After I rose from the table, the secretary told me that he is going to kill me,” says Nyaaga.

In 2020, President Uhuru Kenyatta had directed that phase one of the projects be completed by the end of March to kick-start the Blue Economy exploitation, however, the deadline has not been met.

The President is keen on achieving his Big Four agenda and fishing, which falls under food security as among priority projects in the coastal region.

Illegal fishing

Stock from the Indian Ocean has significantly increased after Kenya Coast Guard Services and international security teams stopped illegal fishing vessels from operating in Kenyan waters.

More than 400,000 tonnes of fish have continued to land monthly at Liwatoni Fisheries Complex since the facility was reopened in 2018.

The government has already trained 186 fishermen from the Coast region on deep-sea fishing as preparations hit top gear to exploit the vast riches in the Blue Economy.

Revival of Liwatoni means a lot to President Uhuru, because it is key to strengthening the Blue Economy.

At 142,400 square kilometres, Kenya’s Exclusive Economic Zone in the Indian Ocean is estimated at 42 per cent of the landmass, almost half the land and remains largely untapped.

Kenya has no expertise in deep-sea fishing and has to employ personnel from outside the country.

The government plan is to train at least 1,000 young people annually for five years in a bid to bridge the gap that exists in the deep-sea fishing industry and create employment.

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