It is more than 8 years since the Jubilee government under President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto ascended to power. In 2013, during their maiden days, the two were seen as the dynamic duo that would grow Kenya’s economy through various infrastructure projects they had promised.
More important to note is that President Uhuru’s government came into action under the new constitution which introduced separation of powers and devolved units. These aspects were meant to improve on oversight and catalyze grassroots development as important pillars of change.
However, there were series of punctures that the Jubilee vehicle was forced to bear with especially during the first tenure. These included cases against humanity at the International Criminal Court where Uhuruto were both faced with, terrorism attacks and a strong opposition pact under Raila Odinga.
As the first term came to an end in 2017, a majority of the promises made were only good on paper even as major multibillion scandals rocked the government. To date, the government has been seen to shoot in the dark even as citizens suffer from high inflation rates. For a majority of major projects rolled out, the government failed terribly on conducting feasibility studies even as public monies were allegedly siphoned by powerful cartels.
This article unravels some of the useless multi billion projects that ended up with no goals attached.
1). Ksh 63 Billion Arror and Kimwarer Dams Projects
The two dams located in Elgeyo Marakwet County were meant to provide adequate water for citizens but instead ended up as a white elephant which drowned billions of taxpayers monies.
Noordin Haji, the initial cost of the project was ksh 40 billion but was inflated to ksh 63 billion. Various state officials from the Treasury Ministry were blamed for the massive illegalities that rocked the project.
Haji also revealed that billions were lost through dubious ways like payment of monies to the contractor on the basis of time lapsed rather than work done. To add salt to injury, part of the money had been borrowed which attracted more interests even as the debts compounded.
“We borrowed, the loan had interest, we borrowed more money to pay interest which also attracted interests,” revealed DPP Haji.
President Uhuru Kenyatta through a technical committee later canceled the Kimwarer project as the Arror dam was given green light albeit with initial expenses slashed down.
2). Ksh 63 Billion Leased Medical Equipment Services
Under the Ministry of Health, the government was ambitious in improving public hospitals’ medical equipment across various counties. In 2015, the projected cost was pegged at ksh 38 billion but the expenses were mysteriously reviewed to ksh 63 billion.
By 2020, a report titled ‘The Leasing of Medical Equipment Project in Kenya: Value for Money Assessment’ authored by the Institute of Economic Affairs revealed that the project was yet another hollow one. According to the report, the programme led to hemorrhage of public funds with some equipment allegedly not supplied even as others gathered dusts in various hospitals. The government was also fingered for failure to inculcate various county units in decision making and not conducting a feasibility study.
3). The Galana Kulalu Irrigation Scheme
Under a foreign company, the government pumped more than 5.9 billion into the project that was seen as a breakthrough in achieving food security.
According to the government, the 1 million acre scheme would produce 40 million 90kg bags of maize by 2017. When rolling out the project, the government began with a 10000 acre model perhaps as a pilot study that could reveal expected setbacks.
By 2020, 85% of infrastructure had been done but the project had only produced a minute 119000 bags. Worse still, out of a million acres, only 10000 had been put under agricultural produce with the government through interior PS Karanja Kibicho considering involvement of the private sector.
4). Huduma Namba
In 2019, the government rolled out the Huduma Number project that was meant to ease access to a number of public services through a single card. In the first phase, more than 10 million Kenyans were registered through collection of personal data.
A whooping ksh 10 billion was spent even as the government ignored red flags including failure of sufficient mechanisms for data protection.
In October, 2021 the rollout of huduma cards was declared invalid by high court judge Jairus Ngaah on the basis that the government failed to conduct data impact assessment.
5). Ksh 8 Billion Kenya-Somalia Wall
In order to contain the Al Shabaab menace, the government under the Ministry of Defense planned to erect a wall on the Kenya – Somalia border.
The project was started in 2015 and would stretch 700 kilometers from Mandera to Kiunga in Lamu. Among the key components of the wall included a concrete barrier, 3 metre deep trench and observation posts overlooked by CCTV cameras.
However, before even one year lapsed, the project faced a major blow as employees including machine operators and drivers downed their tools protesting non payment of their salaries. In October 2016, employees yet again went on a go slow over delayed salaries.
By March 2018 the project stalled with Kenya seeking negotiation with Somalia on aspects such as the impact of the project on the people. To date, less than 30km has been done.
6. Digital Learning Project
The Digital Learning Programme where class one pupils were expected to be issued with tablets died a natural death. According to the government, over 1 million tablets have been issued in 21000 primary schools. However, the ambitious project was not well thought and ended up wasting billions of shillings. According to the then Auditor General Edward Ouko, Sh17.6 billion, Sh13.4 billion, Sh13.4 billion, and Sh6.3 billion had been allocated in four financial years since 2015. The initiative had zero impact and Sh15.2 billion could not be accounted for.
- Ksh 2 Billion Kisumu oil jetty where the project was rendered valueless after Uganda failed on setting up a complementary jetty. The project was meant to transport petroleum products to Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and DRC.