Diplomats in London and New York have been forced to rent homes as residences built by taxpayers fall apart due to neglect, the Auditor-General reveals.

Edward Ouko’s audit paints the sorry state of affairs in the country’s foreign missions and singled out the Kenyan Embassy in Washington DC, New York and London—which are the most prestigious diplomatic missions.

This has forced the diplomats to rent homes in some of the world’s pricey cities, pushing the missions’ leasing costs to Sh2.3 billion in the year to June 2017.

“No proper justification has been given for leasing residential houses considering that the Government of Kenya has houses for the ambassadors in New York and London except for failure to maintain these properties in habitable conditions,” said Mr Ouko.

“An expenditure of Sh2.3 billion on lease of properties abroad could have been minimised if there was a clear policy on purchase or construction of government-owned properties for the missions.”

A recent parliamentary report said the building hosting the Kenyan Embassy in Washington DC has greatly deteriorated. Compared to neighbouring structures, the property stands out as a neglected unit.

“The wooden windows have deteriorated with passage of time and battering by elements of weather and require to be replaced with modern aluminum glazed windows. This being a historical building, care must be taken to preserve the nature of facades,” the committee said.

The Kenyan Embassy building in Washington DC was constructed in the 1930s and the committee has recommended that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs allocate resources in phases for a complete re-roofing of the Chancery building.

The building is leaking and the repairs would improve it in the historically protected zone where building facades are supposed to be preserved.

On the Permanent Mission to the UN in New York, the committee asked the ministry to renovate the Kenya House or demolish it with a view to building more houses for the staff to save on high rent the mission is incurring in renting houses.