Editorials

EDITORIAL: Punish offenders, recover billions in dams scandal

billions
Where were the billions of shillings funnelled to? FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The State has eventually stopped the construction of Kimwarer dam and reviewed the Arror dam design after months of furore and intense debate.

However, it is not enough to cancel the graft-plagued project, taxpayers are owed a refund of billions of shillings that had been paid for the non-existent project.

The government made advance payments of Sh19 billion, including Sh11 billion in unnecessary debt insurance, Sh4.6 billion as loan interest and other costs, which the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji says was shared out in accounts belonging to the conspirators and their agents.

Italian construction company CMC di Ravenna contracted to build the two non-existent dams had denied being part of the negotiations that led to payments of Sh19 billion in connection with the Kimwarer and Arror dams scandals.

So, where were the billions of shillings funnelled to?

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This is the big question hanging over the two huge projects in which the taxpayer was destined to lose a fortune.

The cancellation of Kimwarer project was in response to revelations that it was not backed by a reliable feasibility study ahead of committing the billions.

To make a case for the project’s cancellation, the technical team cited a feasibility study carried out on a similar project 28 years ago that reportedly revealed a geological fault across the 800-acre project area “which could have had negative structural effects on the dam.”

The probe backed by State House revealed the dam construction was overpriced and was not financially viable.

Yes, top State officials led by suspended Treasury Secretary Henry Rotich have been charged in connection with the loss of billions of shillings in tenders related to the planned dams.

But this is not enough. The crackdown should include the confiscation of assets and businesses acquired via proceeds of crime.

Failure to recover the billions will send a negative signal that officials and business people can get away after dipping their fingers in the cookie jar.

The culprits behind the dams’ scandals must punished and taxpayers billions recovered.

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