Malakisi councilors go in hiding over allegations of swindling Sh25M LATF money
Written by Wanyonyi wa Wasike
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Hired youth of Malakisi locking the treasures' office in a bid to stop him from delivering the 2011budget estimates. [Photo |File |Protus Simiyu]
THREE councilors and two chief officers at Malakisi Town Council in Bungoma County have gone into hiding after police launched investigations into the loss of over Ksh. 25 million from the Local Authority Transfer Fund (LATF) kitty.
The civic leaders, the clerk and treasurer to the cash-strapped council have gone underground after allegedly getting wind of an impending investigation involving senior officers from the Ministry of Local Government and the police to round them up in order to account for the missing cash.
Residents at the council, rated as among the poorest in the country had raised various queries over unfinished projects funded under LATF, with majority of the projects being listed as having been completed yet there’s nothing to show on the ground.
“We demand for some accountability over how a total of over Ksh.25 million was utilized by the council during the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 financial budgets because nothing has been done on the ground,” Allan Sitati, the chairman of the Jukwaa La Katiba, Bungoma County branch had demanded in a letter written to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC).
Sitati added that councilors and chief officers at the council have been awarding themselves lucrative tenders instead of opening competitive bids for the same, only to end up misappropriating the cash.
The lobby official listed 15 ghost projects that have siphoned a whooping Ksh16.5 million while another Ksh8.5 million went missing as allowances on imaginary trips and salaries for civic leaders and senior staff.
A survey by West Fm established that no single project from the 2010/2011 and 2011/2012 financial years were done to completion.
Shockingly, it was discovered that the culprits managed to receive completion certificates for the same from the respective line ministries, a loophole that enabled them to further withdraw more cash.
When West Fm visited the council to get a comment over the scandal, the clerk Mr. Robert Luvisi and Treasurer Moses Walekhwa promised to issue a statement latter after getting all the estimates for the contentious projects.
The duo admitted that some projects had “erroneously” been listed as having been completed and instead passed the blame to former clerk to the council Mr. Cleophas Bukelembe, currently at Nambale Town Council in Busia County.
Bukelembe and Luvisi controversially swapped places in November last year after civic leaders locked them out of office at their respective councils after disputes arose over misuse of funds.
The duo hurriedly abandoned a full council meeting that they were chairing and left the council before switching off their mobile phones.
Malakisi Town Council, which had been proposed as among the under-performing civic authorities set to be scrapped and be governed under the larger Bungoma County Council, has only five civic leaders, four of whom are elected and one nominated.
Other councils in Western province that were set for the chop under a new restructuring program in the ministry of local government include Kimilili, Webuye, Sirisia, Webuye, Nambale, Port-Victoria and Malaba among others.