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Contract flaw blamed for dark city streets

A contract flaw is responsible for dozens of light masts erected in most informal settlements over the past several years as a measure to improve security but do not work.

The contracts were structured in such a way that contractors received nearly all payment for the job, in spite of not having proven that the lights were working. The down payment left no incentive for the contractors to ensure the light were switched on.

Engineer Samuel Kioma in charge of the project said the main problem lay in getting Kenya Power to supply power to the masts.

“Kenya Power have to do their part and bring what we call a service line to the control point,” he said.

Power connection

Having paid for the power connection allows the contractor to claim most of his payment from County Hall, in spite of the fact that the lights were never switched on.

“The time is long between installation and energisation. There’s an issue with Kenya Power programmes. We have paid, yes, but Kenya Power has not brought the services. They give their so many reasons for that,” said Mr Kioma.

It is, however, at this period when responsibility for the masts is between County Hall and the contractor that most of the vandalism occurs.

Mr Kioma was speaking when he appeared before the County Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee that is examining a special audit report on County Hall.

“You should ask for a review of the contract such that contractors are not paid until the whole system is energised,” committee chairman Robert Mbatia told Mr Kioma.

Another sticking point in the contract is that the defect liability period starts from the point at which the contractor’s payment is made and runs for six months. When the service line is still not connected at the end of that period, the county is compelled to release the contractor.

“The county has no business getting engaged into the relationship between Kenya Power and the contractor and therefore we should never at any single time start counting the defect liability period from that time. This should start when the lights are put on,” said James Kamau, a representative of the Kenya National Audit Office.