‘Sh0.6b anti-locusts drugs lying idle’

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2021 00:00 |
A swarm of locusts that invaded Meru County in January. Photo/PD/FILE

Mercy Mwai @wangumarci

Chemicals worth millions of shillings procured by the government to fight desert locusts risk expiring before use, an audit report reveals.

The report released by Auditor General Nancy Gathungu for the State Department for Crop Development and Agricultural Research for the financial year ending June 2020 reveals that Sh609.5 million spent on the purchase of the chemicals could end up going to waste.

“In the circumstances, the substantial expenditure of Sh609,486,100 on purchase of chemicals to fight locust invasion across the country cannot be ascertained as a proper charge to public funds, the products may expire before use and stakeholders may not derive for money from the procurement process,” reads the report.

The auditor said inspection of the stores at Kabete on October 28 and 29 last year showed that the products were still being held in there months after delivery.

According to her, no explanation was provided for non-utilisation of the chemicals despite being emergency procurements.

The chemicals were procured from 13 companies through restricted tendering to combat locust invasion in various parts of the country.

Already, Sh498 million has been paid to the suppliers leaving a balance of Sh111.5 million as pending bills.

Kenya has been under siege from desert locusts which have been destroying crops and pasture in many parts of the country.

Food security

The UN Food and Agriculture organisation has said the locusts are swarming across several countries in the region and 3.5 million people could be impacted by May.

Last year, Kenya faced its worst locust invasion in 70 years which threatened the food security of millions of people.

“The internal audit unit of the state department for crop development and research is expected to carry out internal assessments on the programs activities.

However there is no evidence that such assessments were carried out, as a result the programmes internal control environment is weak and the situation has hampered efficient and effective execution of the program activities,” adds the report

In the report which was tabled in the National Assembly, Gathungu also raised concern that projects started by the department in various parts of the country worth millions of shillings had either been delayed or stalled and thus Kenyans did not get value for money.

The projects include the construction of Nakwapua Commercial pasture and demonstration plot and construction of Konoo Irrigation scheme in Turkana County, the construction of footbridge dam in Baringo county as well as the construction of Songa irrigation scheme in Marsabit county. 

Regarding Songa Irrigation scheme in Marsabit county which was done at a cost of Sh84.2 million, Gathungu said the project which started in July 2017 for a contract of 12 months was only 40 per cent complete at the time the contract lapsed and yet the contractor had been paid Sh23.6 million which is 26 per cent of the contract sum.

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