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Why police officers are subletting posh houses to civilians

By EDWIN MUTAI

Police officers allocated houses in newly-built residential quarters have rented them out to civilians, making nonsense of government efforts to improve living conditions in the service.

Parliament was on Tuesday told that a number of officers allocated houses at West Park police lines in Nairobi’s South C estate have sub-let them and are collecting tens of thousands of shillings in rental income every month.

The National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) responded to the revelation with a directive to the National Police Service to audit all housing units to ensure they are occupied by police officers.

“We will not allow any of the houses built with taxpayers’ money to be rented out or sublet to civilians,” said Nicholas Gumbo, the Rarieda MP,  who chairs PAC.

Mr Gumbo, who spoke during an inspection tour of the 595 houses at Nairobi’s West Park, said the houses were meant to improve the officers’ living conditions and not for profiteering.

The last batch of the housing units, located near Wilson Airport, was completed and handed over to the police last December.

DECENT LIVING QUARTERS

The Class C type three-bedroom units are shared by two officers (one married and unmarried) of the ranks of constable to senior sergeant.

Mr Gumbo said Parliament had received credible information that police officers had rented out a number of units for profit and directed the officer in charge of West Park to compile a list of all officers staying in each unit for submission to Parliament.

“You will furnish us with the names of the officers who occupy each unit, rank and station,” Mr Gumbo said, setting a Friday deadline for submission of the report to the National Assembly.

Mr Gumbo promised that the committee, in collaboration with the office of the Auditor- General, would conduct random checks to ascertain the accuracy of the information. Kieni MP Kanini Kega said it was unacceptable for the government to spend millions of shillings building houses  for police officers in the hope of giving them decent living quarters only for the same officers to frustrate the efforts by renting out the units to civilians.

Committee members, who included Andre Mwadime (Mwatate), also toured Administration Police Training College (APTC) in Nairobi’s Embakasi area to investigate how the institution single sourced the procurement of a contractor for a warehouse.

Auditors have questioned extension of timelines set for completion of the project and variation of costs.

AWARD OF CONTRACT

Peter Murithi, the acting AP commandant, told the MPs that the project has since been completed. “As you can see, the building is in use,” he said.

At West Park police housing estate, the committee demanded to know how Mugoya Construction Company, which was awarded the contract in 1987 at a cost of Sh866 million, left the project mid-course forcing the government to bring in new contractors to finish the work at a cost of more than Sh3 billion.

Mugoya was paid Sh300 million at the time of its exit having completed less than 40 per cent of the works and the contract was then awarded to Dimkens Limited at a cost of Sh1.44 billion, but it was once again terminated and the contractor paid Sh1 billion.

The third contract went to one of the sub-contractors at a cost of Sh1.5 billion, taking the total cost to more than Sh3 billion.

“Although this project is now complete after 30 years, we are directing that you furnish us with the final cost given that it was handled by three different contractors,” Mr Gumbo told Lands principal secretary Paul Mwangi, who was present.

PAC also toured the National Police Service Commission (NPSC) offices to find out why it had leased space at Sky Park Building in Nairobi’s Westlands, which it is not utilising fully.