West Pokot artisans protest over delayed payments after making desks, lockers.

Artisan at his working place
Artisan at his working place

Artisans in West Pokot County have protested over delayed payment by the Ministry of Education after delivery of desks and lockers for primary and secondary schools   under the Kshs. 1.9 billion Covid- 19 project.

The carpenters   expressed frustrations demanding for the government to pay them their dues as it had earlier pledged adding that the Ministry of Education promised to pay them on time immediately after delivery of the desks.

Speaking to the press in Kapenguria, the carpenters   who are demanding for Millions said   that most of them borrowed money­ – with an accruing interest– as they did not have the financial capability to deliver the project.

Ayub Khamala  a carpenter  in Kapenguria town who got a tender  of supplying desks in seven schools   said that he  supplied the desks in January,2021   but  he has not been paid his Kshs 1.2  million.

He said that the Ministry of Education had promised to give them deposit but failed.

“I spent Kshs. 8000 to deliver the desks to schools and to date I am yet to pay the transporter. And I did this to beat the deadline for delivery,” he said.

According to  Mr.  Khamala,  he had borrowed over KShs. 500,000 to make the desks and made every effort to deliver them on time.

“We used our money to supply in 20 schools.We have been told our documents had a problem,it goes to Nairobi and back ,”said Khamala.

He cited he borrowed money from the bank hence he is being pushed to pay.

“The interest is growing each day and some of us have even gone to the Ministry of Education office to ask for payment but we are told that the money is available but some process is delaying the release of the cash,” said.

He implored the government to hasten the process so that they are able to pay their dues

“Our children are crying and many people depend on us. We did the work honorably, learners are enjoying yet we are suffering. We have children going to school, pupils enjoying while we suffer .Corona affected us badly .At the moment our businesses have been affected .We just sit idle, Landlords have closed houses for our workers and even some  have    sold their  property to make ends meet,” he said.

The artisans’ deadline for the supply of the 622,157 desks, chairs and lockers to public primary and secondary schools was on October 27th, 2020. Of the Sh1.9 billion, Sh1 billion was to go towards making desks for secondary schools while Sh900 million for primary schools.

The government plan was a major boost for Jua Kali artisans and small and medium-sized enterprises involved in carpentry at the sub-county level.

A  Carpenter David Nyongesa who works in a workshop in  Makutano town  vowed to sue  his boss for not paying them.

“The   tender to supply school desks was  a  lucrative deal but has turned to haunt us,”he said.

Gershom Kilishwa, carpenter   said they worked assiduously knowing that they will be paid on time.

“We don’t know if the money came or  not,”he said

Bramuel Wafula, a worker at the workshop whose hand was cut while working said that he needs the money to get treatment after the accident.

However, West Pokot, County Director of Education Mr Jacob Onyigo  said that there was  a problem with the  documentation and the artisans will be paid this week.