Tolgos put to task over Sh14 million stalled residence
Hillary Mageka @hillarymageka
A court order stopping the construction of Elgeyo Marakwet Governor Alex Tolgos’ official residence has forced residents to dig deeper into their pockets to shoulder his monthly rent running into millions of shillings.
Since his election in 2017, Tolgos has not been able to move into the residence in Iten Town.
This is after some residents moved to court on grounds that there was no public participation on the disputed piece of land earmarked for the construction of the governor’s residence, arguing it had been set aside for building a stadium.
The revelations emerged yesterday during a Senate watchdog committee grilling session as the legislators put the county boss on the spot over 41 stalled projects.
Senate’s County Public Accounts and Investments Committee (CPAIC) had summoned Tolgos to respond to audit queries flagged by former Auditor General Edward Ouko in his report for 2017/2018.
The audit report shows that the county government paid Sh13.87 million to a company to construct the governor’s residence.
However, a physical verification done by the Auditor in 2018 revealed that the site had been deserted.
“Consequently, the county has not obtained value for money in Sh13, 873, 301.50 paid towards the project,” the report.
The project, which was being constructed near the Kamariny Stadium, was to cost the taxpayers Sh35 million at completion.
“The project still stalled due to a court case filed by the locals arguing that the ground was designated as stadium,” the Auditor says in the report.
It adds: “The county government promises to conduct public sensitisation on the need of construction of governor’s residence and that the county Public Works will visit the site to assess the materials on site and recommend on the same.”
In his defense, Tolgos told the nine-member committee chaired by Kisii Senator Sam Ongeri that the project stopped after a group of residents challenged it for lack of public participation.
“Initially, we wanted to do the residence elsewhere. We published Expression of Interest (EOI) in the papers asking for land, but there was no response.
The only option was to use public land and the one next to Kamariny was the one available,” Tolgos said.
His response sparked a flurry of questions with lawmakers asking why it had taken his administration a long time to resolve the matter.