Former Chief Registrar of Judiciary Gladys Shollei is among individuals the MPs want to investigate over the Sh814 million contract awarded for the construction of law courts in Lodwar, Turkana.
The contract was awarded to Land Mark Company in 2013 when Ms Shollei, who is the current Woman MP for Uasin Gishu County, was in office.
Though the project was expected to be completed in April 2015, it stalled after a year with the level of completion at 27.7 per cent. The amount of Sh124.5 million had already been paid to the contractor at the time it stalled.
The value for money was not achieved on the project before it stalled and that enhanced public services expected from the completion of the courts are yet to be realised, according to Auditor-General Edward Ouko’s report for 2015/16 financial year.
On Tuesday, Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi, who chairs the Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly, said that Ms Shollei is required before the committee to explain whether the Sh814 million budget was feasible in terms of the economic challenges the country was facing at the time.
“This question keeps on boggling our heads especially when you think of a building that costs almost a billion in Turkana. Ms Shollei has a case before this committee in so far as the loss of public funds is concerned,” Mr Wandayi said adding; “such practices have become the fertile grounds for rent seeking among public officers.”
Mr Wandayi also indicated that the committee will be pursuing the matter with the company that won the tender as well as individuals, who served under Ms Shollei.
Ms Anne Amadi, the current Chief Registrar of Judiciary, told the watchdog committee that after audit report of the auditor general, it was seen that there was need to scale down the project as the scope and cost was considered to be very huge compared with the likely workload in the county.
“The judiciary has since standardized the construction costs of law courts across the country,” Ms Amadi said after the MPs pressed her on how she would have approached the issue.
The cost of constructing a high court is in now in the region of Sh400 million and Sh200 million for a magistrates courts.
Mr David Rapando, the director of finance at the Judiciary, admitted to the committee that mistakes happened during the previous administration and have since been addressed.
“The figure of Sh814 million is a lot of money for a court in Lodwar considering that we do not have so many cases there,” Mr Rapando said.
Mr Wandayi’s committee is currently considering the report of the auditor general on the accounts of the national government among them parliament, government ministries, constitutional commissions and independent offices.
The watchdog committee also heard that when the judiciary suggested to the contractor the idea of scaling down the cost of the law courts, a dispute arose between the two parties.
The matter is now under the arbitration with the judiciary awaiting the outcome before any further intervention is initiated.