Orengo, MCAs fight for control of multimillion-shilling ward projects

Orengo, MCAs fight for control of multimillion-shilling ward projects

Governor James Orengo is a man under siege amid a simmering row with ward representatives.

The MCAs are reportedly seeking greater control of the multimillion-shilling projects being implemented in their wards.

On Monday, Mr Orengo was holed up in a meeting with the leaders at a Kisumu hotel till late in the night in a bid to find an amicable solution to the impasse.

Assembly Majority leader Martin Otieno on Tuesday confirmed the meeting, but denied claims that MCAs were holding the governor to ransom.

“It is a big lie to claim that we are coercing the governor to accede to our demands,” he said.

He said Monday’s meeting was to “enhance the working relationship” between the people’s representatives and the county executive.

“There was nothing unique about that meeting,” he added.

Deputy Governor William Oduol said he did not have details of the ongoing tender fights but was aware of them.

According to a senior county official who sought anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter, the MCAs’ demands emanated from a pre-election deal between them and the governor, who was banking on their support in order to trounce his main rival, Mr Nicholas Gumbo, who was running on a United Democratic Movement party ticket.

“The MCAs feel that the governor has backtracked on his earlier promise of ensuring that they take charge of ward projects. This is the major cause of the conflict,” the official told Nation.

The source further claimed that some MCAs have companies that they want awarded the tenders.

“The governor is exercising care not to contravene procurement regulations. It is impossible to award tenders the way the MCAs want it done,” the official said.

On Saturday, during a ceremony to celebrate the traditional wedding of Rarieda MP Otiende Omollo’s son in Migori County, some Siaya MCAs allegedly refused to greet the governor.

A similar scenario unfolded in South Sakwa during the homecoming party held in honour of area MCA Eunice Achieng on Sunday.

“This [the two events] is what prompted the meeting that was held in Kisumu on Monday,” our source revealed.

The relationship between Mr Orengo and the MCAs has been rosy ever since he took over the leadership mantle.

The lawmakers had hitherto given the governor their support in running the county. When Mr Oduol fell out with Mr Orengo, the MCAs quickly tabled and passed an impeachment motion that ousted him from his position. He was, however, re-instated by the Senate.

The row also comes amid court disputes and expenditure controversies at the devolved unit.

Controller of Budget Margaret Nyakang’o had raised concerns over the county assembly’s allocation of Sh436.65 million for non-core development projects, including construction of an assembly complex at a cost of Sh181 million, ward office networking (Sh74 million), completion of meeting halls in ward offices (Sh55 million), construction of the Speaker’s official residence (Sh36 million), fencing of ward offices (Sh34 million), and construction of halls in ward offices (Sh10 million).

A petitioner, Mr Chris Owala, has gone to court challenging the recent recruitment of staff, with the case expected for hearing at the Siaya High Court today.

In his supplementary affidavit filed in court, Mr Owala accuses the Orengo administration of imprudent use of public funds through the recruitment of more staff than was required.

Some of the new workers reportedly resigned from their former workplaces after receiving their appointment letters but are yet to be absorbed into the county government and included in the payroll.

Source: https://nation.africa/kenya/counties/siaya/orengo-mcas-fight-control-multimillion-shilling-ward-projects-4412168