Suppliers afraid of dealing with counties over payment delays

By: SILAS APOLLO

Governors have blamed their failure to pay some contractors and suppliers on the malfunctioning of the e-procurement system.

The debts, some dating back to 2013, according to the suppliers, have now become a source of court battles, with governors criticised for failing to honour deals they signed.

Council of Governors Finance Committee Chairman Wycliffe Oparanya said on Saturday the system shuts down if used for long.

“Due to the malfunctioning of the system, counties cannot promptly pay pending bills to contractors and suppliers. This causes anxiety and gives the impression that regional governments are not keen to settle their bills,” Mr Oparanya, who is also the Kakamega governor, told the Nation.

Mr Oparanya said the system was also inaccessible in other parts of the country, especially northern Kenya, which lacked constant power supply and internet connection.

Vihiga, Kisii, Machakos, Embu and Taita-Taveta counties are entangled in the wrangles, a situation that has put a number of projects in limbo.

COUNTY CONTRACTOR’S WOES

Some small-scale suppliers are no longer keen on dealing with counties, fearing that they would not be paid.

The arrears, contractors say, were for construction of roads, hospitals and market sheds, and the supply of water, medicines and electrical equipment, among other jobs.

In the past two weeks, various suppliers stormed both the Taita-Taveta and Embu county offices, demanding payment for the services they offered.

They accused governors of tricking them. They said their properties were now at risk of being auctioned over failure to service bank loans.

In Vihiga County, the Credit Reference Bureau last week blacklisted all the contractors after they failed to service their bank loans.

Dr Billy Nyonje, the chairman of the suppliers in the county, told the Nation on Sunday that their woes were as a result of failure by Governor Moses Akaranga to pay them Sh509 million owed to them.