“The contractor claims that we have refused to pay him. But out of the Sh7.2 billion contract, we have already given out Sh5.9 billion. The balance in the contract is Sh1.2 billion whereas the value of pending works not done is Sh989 million. We needed the contractor to make progress in the works done but he has refused. Basically, he doesn’t deserve to get paid.”
Those are the words of Charles Muasya, the head of design and planning of irrigation projects at the National Irrigation Board as blame games over the collapse of Galana Kulalu continue.
These issues are cropping up at a time when the project should be making Sh1.2 billion in maize sales per season, per projections. Instead, it has only managed 119,000, 90kg bags of maize, worth about Sh273.7 million.
“The contractor wants to be paid for equipment that is still in Israel. We even asked for a bill of lading to show that he has already shipped the equipment but he has failed to provide one. We don’t know if he has purchased the equipment or even made arrangements for shipment,” Mr Muasya said.
Ofir Meroz, the country director of Green Arava, refused to comment on the issue. “I don’t want to talk about the government, the employer (the National Irrigation Board), or about the project. I am just not interested,” he said.
The Galana-Kulalu Food Project is being financed by the government and an Israel bank known as Bank Leumi, which provided a loan of Sh6.35 billion towards the scheme on condition that an Israeli firm be picked to start the farm.
This week, NIB wrote to the National Treasury and the Attorney-General seeking a way forward.