African Press International (API)

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THE DAY KISUMU CITY WENT WITHOUT WATER FOR ALMOST A WEEK AND YET THE CITY STANDS ON THE SHORE OF LAKE VICTORIA

Posted by African Press International on October 10, 2008

Investigative news By Leo Odera Omolo

For the last four days, the lakeside City which stands only a stone throw outside the eastern shore of the Nyanza gulf at the tip of Lake Victoria has been without water

The towns swollen population which is almost reaching one million mark went without bathing from Sunday to Wednesday when all the water taps dried up for bathing cooking, drinking and for washing their clothes

The shortage of water in the lakeside water has since become a matter of perennial phenomenon. Youth hawking with untreated and un-hygenic waters were seen pushing handcarts all over the City while shouting the loudest, Maji Maji {Water Water}

Millions of donor funded money has been poured into the City in recent years for various water projects in Kisumu. This is a city which stands on the tip of the worlds second largest fresh water lake , but all the money has evaporated and melted into the thin air not only threatening the lives of the city residents, by exposing them to the danger of water borne disease. But also making the lives difficult for businessmen, especially the hoteliers

In recent year the government had privatised or liberalised water businesses, and allowed local authorities to form regional water boards like the Kisumu’s KIWASCO, But this move only worsen the situation as more corruption cases and misuse of funds bwecame evident everywhere.

There are several points of the city , especially the residential estates and living quarters , which have never received even an iota of water,leave alone a pint for six months or more. The residents rely mostly on unhealthy water drawn from the shallow wells they have since sunk in their living compounds for emergency supply.

Huge population is treated to row water they buy from hawkers selling on the handcarts. At times, the situation became so pathetic to an extent that some families goes for days without bath. The business of water hawking has become so lucrative attracting a large number of youths hired by their employers for the purpose of pushing handcart and selling untreated water.

All the monies received from donor agencies and the government of Kenya for various major water development projects have been siphoned, and only phantom claims made with no tangible work put on the ground to improve the Citys water works.

The business, though has since became a booming trade in the City, it is indeed exposing the population the residents to a great danger of contracting water borne diseases such as cholera. The cholera outbreak in Kisumu has since became an annual occurrences. The City has been undergoing acute shortage of water for its rapifly growing populations ever since the late 1970.

A month ago Madam Charity Kaluki Ngilu, the straight talking and fearless Minister for Water Development will have to move with speed and put up a spirited fight against the well rooted graft and corruption she had inherited in her new Ministry.

The extent of graft in the ministry could be mirrored in an impending court case in Nairobi ,where a high court judge has ordered an account of a senior civil servant frozen pending further inquiries to a certain the source of the mans wealth.

There has been many cases of this nature, where even the lowest cadre of Ministrys employees are known to have become millionaires overnight due to the massive pilferage of projects money.

In the late 1980 the retired President Daniel Arap Moi at one time ordered the freezing of an account in Kisumu bank of a former Permanent Secretary jn the Ministry of Water.The former PS had stashed millions of shillings in his account which was considered to be much in excess of all his sources of income as an accounting officer in the Water Ministry. At the time junior official of the Ministry were living like king, putting up massionates building in Kisumus Kajulu estate and other places whereas the water taps went dry in many living quarters within the City.

In the latest legal tussle in a Nairobi court, the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission had moved to court claiming that the money in the account of the employee of the national water conservation and pipelines corporation, reported

Into various banks accounts to kshs 140 million and that this amount exclude the main schooling. The man in question according to document ticket in court by KACC earns 180,031 per month.

It says in September last year the man withdrew ksh 85 million in order to acquire and develop land and other property worth kshs 56 million.

According to court papers a search warrant in the mans home and office unearthed large sum of money and document detailing the number of property, which the man had already acquired, including houses vehicles and land plots.

The graft watchdog now want the man (or name withheld) who is prior to his tribulations was the financial controller of the national water body to pay to the government an amount equivalent to the value of the unexplained assets and in the alternative his property be auctioned and the money stalled in his various accounts be forfeited to the government.

The man is fighting back and has filed an application seeking to get back the property that w as confisticated from his house and office back into into his wealth. The case is still pending in court and was o be heard on October 16 2008

The Ministry of Water Development in Kenya has been often referred to as the milking cow for many years . Those senior and and junior cadre of Ministrys employee both in Nairobi and in the provinces are known to have become millionaires overnight.

Some of the Ministry workers both past and present have acquired property worth millions of shillings within the shortest period of time.

In Kisumu city where several development water phrases have believe to have been certified as having been completed ,the population still goes without water for life and yet the city stands besides the fresh and sweet water lake.

All he money from donor funding mysteriously disappeared and ended in massionates built by unpatriotic workers. The money meant for water development in Kisumu has always remain in papers and at the end of the day nothing tangible is put in place whereas the million set aside for the project is gone.

The extent of corruption in the water ministry recently surfaced and become a matter of public conjecture and debate when Madeam Ngilu took over the office and immediately ordered for a crack down on graft and reshuffle of its seniors officers from the Provinces

There was hue and cry everywhere there was a lot of panicking as many staff tried to bribe their way so that their status quo remained the same. The commotion created a field day for unscrupulous power-brokers who minted a lot of the ill-gotten money, especially those perceived to be close to some senior politicians in the grand coalition government.

\some unpatriotic staff, engineers and technician tried hard to bribe their ways so that they could retain in their old station but Ngilu stood her ground and refused to succumb to pressure from the various power brokers engaged by their unscrupulous staff lobbying for them not to be transferred.

It was establish that the main reasons for formidable and intensive lobbying by the Water Ministrys staff in Kisumu is connected by the planned major water project to be funded by the French government to the tune of Kshs 2 billion. It could have been a big kill for the staff had they stayed on.

From what we hear there paid of view a lot money changed hands in those who requested not to be transferred

It obviously become a bitter pill to swallow particularly those who headed the ministry in Kisumu city which is expecting a French donation of ksh2 billion to improve the water and sanitation services in the near future. The mass transfer caused major financial set back for their friends who were getting ready for big kill

Already ksh 500million has been consumed in Kisumu citys recent water development work, but it made no difference. There is no sign of improvement at all no any sign of the Citys water supply getting any better

Let madam Ngilu carry her noble work of bringing sanity to this town troden ministry which for many years remained bedeviled with endless corruption and naked theft of government project funds. Many Kisumu residents have praised Madam Ngilu and the Prime Minister Raila Odinga for having given her unqualified support in her concerted effort to crack down on corrupt officers.

Ends

Leooderaomolo@yahoo.com

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API

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