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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Graft: Ngilu offers defence to House team






Water and Irrigation minister Charity Ngilu makes her presentation over corruption allegations in her Ministry to The House Committee on Lands and Natural Resources at Parliament Buildings November 11, 2010. HEZRON NJOROGE
Water and Irrigation minister Charity Ngilu makes her presentation over corruption allegations in her Ministry to The House Committee on Lands and Natural Resources at Parliament Buildings November 11, 2010. HEZRON NJOROGE 
By JOHN NGIRACHU
Posted Thursday, November 11 2010 at 16:20

Water and Irrigation minister Charity Ngilu has presented her defence over corruption allegations in her Ministry to Parliament’s Committee on Lands and Natural Resources.

Mrs Ngilu said she was surprised when her former assistant, Mwangi Kiunjuri, linked his transfer to Public Works to his failed efforts to stem corruption at the ministry.
She said she had worked well with Mr Kiunjuri in his two years at Maji House and the issues he was raising had been dealt with along with many others at the ministry.
“I don’t understand why these things about the Ministry of Water had had to come out even though they were known to me and him and we worked together,” she told the team chaired by Gachoka MP Mutava Musyimi.
Mrs Ngilu said the ministry was virtually inexistent when she took over in 2008 and that it has performed very well since then, with four major dams under construction in several parts of Kenya.
“In the past, the Ministry of Water was not supposed to give Kenyans water. It was supposed to be a conduit (for the theft of money),” said Mrs Ngilu.
But she found it hard to explain why Mr Kiunjuri has made his accusations and admitted that the ministry is being investigated by three government agencies and an audit firm.
Mr Musyimi wondered why Mr Kiunjuri would be on the warpath against the minister yet she claimed their relationship had been “hunky dory".
The Laikipia East MP said last Wednesday the minister was linked to eight companies and a Non-Governmental Organisation that had been dealing with the ministry.
Mrs Ngilu was non-commital in her reply to this but said the March report of the Water Services Regulatory Board and the investigations of the KACC would reveal the truth.
The minister said apart from an audit of the National Water Conservation and Pipeline Corporation by KPMG, the Efficiency Monitoring Unit, the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission and the Kenya National Audit Office are also looking into activities there.
Mrs Ngilu said the investigations “are an everyday thing”.
“The investigations are so much that the place (Maji House) is fatigued. Not that I mind it but we can’t work. If we have KPMG, EMU, KACC, KNAO, it becomes difficult to work,” she said.
Mrs Ngilu said an attempt to unearth the truth about the activities at the NWCPC stalled when there was a fire there a day before the ministry’s internal audit report was released.
The committee has been investigating the September 2009 fire and was also concerned that the ministry is yet to present a report on its cause five months after they asked for it.
Mrs Ngilu had a pile of files and other documents and was accompanied by assistant minister Ferdinand Waititu, Permanent Secretary David Stower and other ministry officials.
Mrs Ngilu was asked to present a report on the goings-on at the ministry, and there were negotiations on the time she would take to compile it before agreeing on 21 days.
The minister detailed to the committee the process that led to the refusal to pay one of the ministry’s suppliers some Sh512 million after it was discovered there were no procurement documents to support the claim.
She said some staff at the NWCPC had been sacked when it was discovered they had been involved in irregular procurements.
One supplier was said to have made a claim for hiring out vehicles yet had used motorcycles instead.

Mrs Ngilu and Mr Kiunjuri have been barred by the Speaker of the National Assembly from making any statements outside their submissions to the committee.

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