Government fails to pay NYS despite spending Sh3.4 billion on Kenya-Somalia boarder wall

The Ministry of Interior failed to pay Sh31 million to the National Youth Service (NYS) servicemen despite spending Sh3.4 billion to construct a 10 kilometre wall along the Kenya-Somalia boarder.

The NYS youth were involved in the construction of the ongoing Sh8 billion Kenya-Somalia boarder wall for nearly 18 months before they were withdrawn when the project was taken over by the Defence Ministry.

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The wall, dubbed the Kenya-Somalia Border Securitisation Project, was mooted in 2015 to secure the country from attacks by Somalia-based Al Shabaab terrorists.

Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) engineers had estimated that the entire 700-kilometre length of the border would cost a total Sh8 billion, but it is now emerging that nearly half of that amount was spent on only a 10-kilometre stretch.

On arrival at the project sites in Mandera and Lamu, free accommodation and food was provided for the duration of the servicemen’s stay.

Each serviceman was entitled to Sh30,000 flat-rate allowance after they went on a go-slow following the non-payment as they were usually paid an allowance for all the works done on their duty stations.

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The first deployment of the NYS was done in 2015 and involved 36 officers and nine servicemen who were sent to the project in Mandera while Kiunga had 25 officers both deployed for a period of 12 months.

The officers and servicemen were paid a one-off allowance when they travelled to the sites but were not paid subsistence allowance for 11 months totalling Sh23.1 million.

The second team was sent to the Kenya Somalia border points of Mandera and Kiunga in June 2016 and was paid the first one month per diem worth Sh9,352,900.

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“Mandera site had 34 officers and 26 servicemen while Kiunga site had 29 officers both deployed for a period of six months.

The teams were paid three months subsistence allowance, that is July, August and September 2016 leaving three months pending as unpaid,” Rachael Shebesh, the Chief Administrative Secretary in the Ministry of Public Service, Youth and Gender said in minutes to a report on inquiry into the construction of the controversial border wall.

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Ms Shebesh appeared before the National Assembly’s Defence and Foreign Affairs committee chaired by Kajiado South MP Katoo Ole Metito which inquired into the status, viability and efficacy in the implementation of the Kenya-Somalia Border Securitisation Project.

The minutes, attached to the report of the committee show that the unpaid subsistence for October, November and December 2016 was Sh8,010,000.

“The total pending payment is Sh31,110,000. This being after the Ministry of Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs stated that the NYS servicemen were in allowance arrears of two months,” the committee said.

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The committee said the NYS were called to demobilise from Kiunga and Mandera sites after the Ministry of Defence came up with a decision of contracting services for both Mandera and Kiunga project respectively to private contractors vide letter Ref. No. DHQ/SP/PROJ/CONFD/004/1 dated December 28, 2016 which ended the role of NYS agency in the programme,” the report states.

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