Three years after Kidero’s ambitious beautification programme, City Hall is yet to repay a Sh48 million loan used for the initiative.
The beautification programme was launched in 2015 ahead of the visits of former US President Barack Obama and Pope Francis. Infamously known as “Kidero Grass”, it included landscaping and planting of flowers and grass along major roads that were used by the two dignitaries.
The project fizzled out after the visit of the two world leaders leaving behind a Sh48 Million overdraft and Sh5.3 Million in interest due to the repayment delays.
This has forced the Nairobi County Assembly Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to open investigations into how the money, obtained from Co-operative Bank, was spent and why it is yet to be paid back.
Appearing before the committee on Thursday last week, City Hall’s acting Finance chief officer Ekaya Alumasi said the money was secured from Co-operative Bank with the promise that the National Treasury would reimburse Sh60 million to City Hall.
The Auditor General had raised audit queries on why the overdraft was secured yet the national government had promised a grant towards the project.
In addition, the programme was neither included in the 2015/2016 fiscal year’s budget nor a supplementary budget presented to the assembly for approval.
“We had been promised by the national government a grant of Sh60 million and so we acted on that to get the overdraft knowing that it will pay it,” Alumasi said.
But when pressed by the chairman of the committee, MCA Wilfred Odalo, on why the county was yet to get the grant from the national government, the acting finance chief officer admitted that they had not asked for the reimbursement from the National Treasury.
“How can you fail to follow up when someone has promised to reimburse you? It means the county is incurring all these debts because of a few people in the finance sector who are not doing their job,” Wilfred Odalo said.
Kware MCA Rose Kula added: “Did residents get value for money in the project? Why was it abandoned soon after the visitors left?”
Alumasi said only the officials from the environment department could tell whether the county got value for money.
The officers were not on the committee at the time.