African Press International (API)

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Embattled Kisumu City Manager finally speaks over her

Posted by African Press International on April 8, 2016

By Investigative Writer.

The embattled former Kisumu city manager Doris Ombara has come out to
defend herself over allegations that she embezzled Sh27 Million while at
city hall.

Ombara who was recently moved to head the Lake Front development by the
county government said although the money was indeed spent, she did so only
after obtaining authority from the top county managers.

Ombara whose controversial transfer saw a section of MCas hold
demonstration in the town in protest said she was forced to use money
collected at the source as revenue because she desperately needed money to
run the activities of the city but had none.

She told weekly citizen on phone that the county government would
deliberately delay the release of money meant for the city management for
several months leaving her desperate and with no cash to pay bills such as
electricity and water for city facilities.

Ombara clarified that not even a coin went into any of her personal
ventures and recalled how she would allegedly plead with the KPLC managers
at the Kisumu office every month not to disconnect hospitals and schools
whose electricity bills were to be paid by the city and funds were not
promptly being released to her from the county coffers.

She said that a part from the street lights, the city was spending close to
40,000 shillings on floodlights alone every month. The floodlights were
erected in areas such as Kondele, Nyalenda, Tom Mboya and others under
especially in the informal settlements the 4billion Kisumu Urban project to
boost efforts to curb insecurity within the city.

According to Ombara , Facilities such as Jaramogi Oginga Odinga teaching
and referral hospital, Lumumba Health center, Kisumu sub county hospital,
Migosi , Joel Omino and all the other city markets, together with the city
schools have their electricity and water bills , which runs into millions
of shillings paid for by the city authority.

“I needed money to pay electricity to these facilities. At Russia hospital
for example if there was power cut due to unpaid bills, the theater would
not operate and those who need the critical services would die, bodies at
the morgue would rot and we as the city handlers would have to take
responsibility,” she said

In order to avoid occasioning such a loss , Ombara said she was forced to
seek authority from the finance officers at the county who gave her a node
to spend money at the source so address the emergencies and desperate times
that she was faced with since the county government was delaying release of
funds to the city management.

Amongst other allegations, Ombara was alleged to have ignored calls from
her bosses not to use money generated as revenue at the source. Her
accusers claim she can not account for 27 millions shillings. An audit
conducted by KENAO also allegedly raised queries on the same and she’s said
to have been asked to return the cash. It was also claimed that she
illegally put together a team of traders to collect revenue and allegedly
paid them 1000 sh each every day but during a telephone interview she
dismissed the allegations terming them malicious.

It is also claimed that during her tenure, revenue collections went down
and that at Kibuye for example the revenue went down from the 300,000 which
would be collected on Sundays.

But on a rejoinder, she accused the top county government managers of
allegedly taking away the docket of revenue collection from her after they
allegedly created a directorate to do the job.

“ When I came in I managed to raise revenue collections from the 500,000
that was being collected to 800,000 but as soon as the directorate was
created, the revenue base dipped,’’ Said Ombara on phone.

She claimed that her woes were motivated by the people who want to hijack
operations at the Kisumu Urban Project for their selfish interests.

She said the timing for her removal from office of the city manager was
suspect at time when she was to authorize payment for the KUP contractors

‘’ Why would they change signatories now, bring in my deputy and bring a
county official as one of the signatories and begin to pay contractors. The
issue is this KUP project’’ said Ombara.

Ombara said she was fighting graft at the project which she claimed was
perpetrated by a section of her own staff at KUP.

‘’ This project attracts both local and international bids whenever we have
contracts, and the bids preparation can gobble up thousands of shillings.
Why would we pretend that we are looking for contactors elsewhere when we
know who we want to get the job? I tell you some of the people who wanted
these jobs are some of my staff at KUP and I could not allow such’’ said
Ombara

Ombara vowed to prosecute those at KUP whom she accused of being corrupt at
whatever cost.

‘’ I may be sacrificed, bridges can be burnt but I will not let my image
and career destroyed just like that. I will not like to bring in to
disrepute the names and characters of my bosses at the county but my name
too and image must not be assassinated by anyone’’ she added.

She wondered why anybody would reward an officer who ahs failed to account
for 27 million shillings with a promotion instead of handing such an
officer for prosecution.

‘’ in a press statement released to the media by the governors press team,
it is said I worked well and ensured prudent management of funds especially
on KUP. It is because of hard work and prudent management of resources that
the alleged promotion was handed over to me. Who does that to a bad officer
who can’t account for 27 million? ‘’ said Ombara.

She said it was unfair to be moved to an outfit which did not have even
physical office to operate from.

Ombara was replaced by her deputy and is understood to have handed over to
her in the county secretary’s office soon after her controversial exit.

A senior officer at the county government alleged Ombara had strained
relationship with her staff at the city and also at the KUP. Following the
strained relations, one of the staff at KUP who was handling the finance
docket had to resign. Others at the city were allegedly transferred within
the county by her.

But Ombara said she only acted whenever it was necessary arguing that she
inherited some staff that was not qualified while some were drunkard lot
who was hired through political patronage in the now defunct municipal
council.

‘’ This was not unique to Kisumu county alone. Most of the staff I got was
not qualified. Some were a law unto themselves. Some were desperate
drunkards but instead of sacking them I formed a counseling team to help
them and redeployed others which was within my mandate’’ she said.

She said the city had a budget of between Sh 10 to Sh 12 million shillings
a month which amongst other activities included fueling of trucks to
collect garbage daily, supervision and monitoring teams that would be out
monitoring activities at KUP, repair works and maintenance of vehicles
etc..

The Sh4 billion KUP was a four year pilot project funded by the French
government. It was launched by the former Prime Minister Raila Odinga in
April 2012 it keys component was solid waste management, building modern
markets , slum upgrading, building capacity of the locals and
infrastructural development. Some of these projects are either on going or
complete.

Others like solid waste management have ran into challenges and to date
even land to do a sanitary dump field has never been obtained as resistance
from locals on the site to move the current site continue. Flood lights
have been erected in the areas identified such as in Nyalenda, Kondele and
street lights from Nyamasaria up to Kisian are being installed.

*Ends…*

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