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With Mike Ochieng 
Corruption is a key element in economic underperformance and a major obstacle to poverty alleviation and development in Siaya County.

Pervasive corruption is an insidious plague that is prevalent in Siaya County and has a wide range of corrosive effects on the residents. Corruption undermines democracy and the rule of law, leads to violations of human rights, distorts markets, erodes the quality of life and allows organized crime, terrorism and other threats to human security to flourish. Corruption hurts the poor disproportionately by diverting funds intended for development, undermining a government’s ability to provide basic services, feeding inequality and injustice and discouraging foreign aid and investment.
The recruitment of the CECM Jackline Oduol and Chief Officer Judith Oyudi was contested on the basis of their qualification and experience relevant to the department. Previous office holder Dr. Julie P Onyango was hounded of office on flimsy misdemeanor charges despite attaining high accolades in the environmental management & sustainable development.
Recent media reports indicate that some rogue contractors without financial and technical capacity had been awarded multi-million tenders in Siaya.

Weekly Citizen reported that the head of procurement perfected the art of collecting bribes from challenged contractors struggling to deliver leading to incomplete/abandoned projects. They alleged reliable sources revealed that Udonga General Merchants, Nile Logistics Services Limited & Banvic Africa limited is notorious among the companies that have resorted to bribery to win multi-million projects, despite glaring lack of capacity to handle such projects. The matter was reported to be of grave concern that at one point it took center stage when Siaya Governor James Orengo had a meeting with the Civil Society fraternity and the Edward Ouko’ s Taskforce committee. During the said meeting it was noted that Udonga General Merchants, Nile Logistics Services Limited & Banvic Africa limited was pushing for additional contracts yet it was still struggling with unfinished / abandoned projects worth over KES 300 Million in the department of water. This assertion has been validated from the recently launched dry borehole projects by the Governor.

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The KES 35 Million Got Matar Water project was launched by Governor Orengo on 23rd September 2022 and commissioned as complete on/around 28th April 2023 (https://www.the-star.co.ke/counties/nyanza/2023-04-28-20000-siaya-residents-to-benefit-from-got-matar-water-scheme/ ). However this project has no EIA, Feasibility studies, Engineering Design and project completion reports detailing the As-built drawings to justify the expenditure of the KES 35 Million and the sustainability of the project. On 6th October 2023 a new tender was flouted for proposed solarization of Got Matar water project labeled for the ‘executive’. Source: https://siaya.go.ke/tender-notice-proposed-solarization-of-got-matar-water-project/

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On 11th April 2023 Water, Sanitation, Environment Climate Change and Natural Resources department advertised tender RFP NO. CGS/SCM/WENR/RFP/2021-2022/01 for consultancy services to develop governance policy management of community water schemes, that is clearly not within the mandate of the county government. The National Government through Water Sector Regulatory Board (WASREB) has developed clear regulations, standards and tools for governance of community water schemes. The project was awarded to a Civil servant – Dr. Samwel Ong’wen Okuro who is is a permanent employee at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology contrary to procurement laws. Another ghost project by water department.

Determined to prevent, detect and deter in a more effective manner transfers of illicitly acquired assets and to strengthen cooperation with state agencies in asset recovery;

Bearing in mind that the prevention and eradication of corruption is a responsibility of the Government, with the support and involvement of individuals and groups outside the public sector, such as civil society, non-governmental organizations and community based organizations, if their efforts in this area are to be effective;

Bearing also in mind the principles of proper management of public affairs and public resources, fairness, responsibility and equality before the law and the need to safeguard integrity and to foster a culture of rejection of corruption;

The lack of progress in the last eleven years is largely attributed to poor governance and the massive theft and misappropriation of public resources by public officials. All indications are that massive graft, corruption, and misallocation of political and economic resources have stymied Siaya County’s ability to take advantage of devolution and catch up with the rest of Country.

Despite the huge water potential in Lake Victoria catchment, the county leadership has not been willing to find a sustainable solution to the perennial water shortage, the most common response to “alleviate” the water problem in the last decade being the construction of expensive water pans and boreholes. The big ugly holes dotting the landscape serve as temporary rain water reservoirs, but do little to solve the perennial water problem in the region. The leadership prefers them because they are easy to implement as they do not involve much technical skill and are normally constructed at inflated cost. More than Eleven years after devolution, and after receiving billions of shillings annually including in allocations for the water sector, residents of Siaya County do not have access to running water in their homesteads.

It is reported in Siaya County CIDP that Water, Irrigation, Environment and Natural Resources drilled and equipped of 140 Boreholes; solarized 150 boreholes, laid 381km of water pipeline; desilted of 75 Water pans; protected of 45 Springs. These are a ghost projects that were not physically implemented and has no Project Completion Reports. The figures contradict those highlighted in the approved County Physical and Land Use Plan whose record correspond with that of Water Resources Authority (WAR). The County Water Department has been tendering these projects without EIA, Feasibility Studies, hydrogeological studies, topographic surveys, Hydraulic designs, Engineering Design/drawings and no project completion reports/ Borehole completion records leading to a potential loss of close to KES 800 Million unaccounted for. An issue also highlighted in Auditor General’s adverse report.

Request for contract information regarding the tenders advertised on 3rd of February 2023 and those advertised on 19th October 2023 was ignored and neglected. The advertised tender documents under ITT Clause 53.1 provided that within fourteen days after signing the contract, the Procuring Entity shall publish the awarded contract at its notice boards and websites; and on the Website of the Authority (read Public Procurement Regulatory Authority). That at the minimum, the notice shall contain the following information:
a) name and address of the Procuring Entity;
b) name and reference number of the contract being awarded, a summary of its scope and the selection method used;
c) the name of the successful Tenderer, the final total contract price, the contract duration.
d) dates of signature, commencement and completion of contract;
e) names of all Tenderers that submitted Tenders, and their Tender prices as read out at Tender opening.

The public complaints and petitions submitted Water department in compliance with section 87-88 as read together with section 89 of County Government Act 2012 have been largely ignored. There has been no public participation in the conceptualization, budgeting and implementation of the Water Projects. Disclosure of information, with disaggregation and provision of participation opportunities, enables meaningful public participation and quality decision-making. This ensures open access to information for all citizens, including the poor and marginalized, to support their engagement with county planning and overall development.

The legal framework for conducting public participation in counties is found in section 115 (1) of the County Government Act, 2012 which provides that public participation in the county planning processes shall be mandatory and be facilitated through (b) provision to the public of clear and unambiguous information on any matter under consideration in the planning process, including;
(i) clear strategic environmental assessments;
(ii) clear environmental impact assessment reports;
(iii) expected development outcomes; and
(iv) development options and their cost implications.

Article 183 of the Constitution as read together with Section 36 of the County Governments Act, 2012, outlines the functions of the County Executive Committee as follows;
1) A County Executive Committee shall; a) Implement County legislation; b) Implement, within the County, National legislation to the extent that the legislation so requires; c) Manage and coordinate the functions of the County administration and its departments; and d) Perform any other functions conferred on it by this Constitution or National legislation.
2) A County Executive Committee may prepare proposed legislation for consideration by the County Assembly.
3) The County Executive Committee shall provide the County Assembly with full and regular reports on matters relating to the County.

Part of management and coordination functions of your department would definitely include contract management and reporting. It is clearly within your mandate to provide the requested information contrary to your assertion via WhatsApp message. Your actions speaks to incompetence, abuse of office, gross misconduct and gross violation of the Constitution / laws.

In order to fight corruption, Water department must promote, inter alia, integrity, honesty and responsibility among county public officials in the department.

The overt acts of misrepresentation, illegalities and the concealment of relevant information places CECM Prof. Jackline Oduol and Chief Officer Judith Oyugi in conflict with the provisions of Article 10, Article 35, Article 232 of the Constitution, Section 4 of the Access to Information Act 2016, section 6 of the Fair Administrative Action Act 2015, the Leadership and Integrity Act, the Public Officer Ethics Act and County Government Act.

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