30.3 million USD used for 10km barbed wire fence on Somalia-Kenya border raises eyebrow

Hiiraan Xog, 30.3m USD which was used to construct 10 kilometres of the controversial barrier between Kenya and Somalia has shocked Kenyan MPs.

The construction of the wall which stretches from border point one in Mandera to Kiunga in Lamu at the Kenyan Coast was initiated in 2014.

Kenya’s House committee on Defence and Foreign Relations of the parliament tabled a report on the project and urged the government to fast-track its completion.

The report tabled in the National Assembly shows that Sh300 million (3 million USD) have been used per kilometre on the security barrier consisting of chain link, razor barbed wire, and concrete poles.

Initially, the project which was approved by Kenya’s National Security Advisory Committee (NSAC) in 2015 in the wake of al-Shabaab attack was undertaken by the country’s Ministry of Interior before it was handed over the Defence ministry.

“Before handing over of the project to the Ministry of Defence, the ministry had expended a total of Sh3, 380, 353, 960.52 as tabulated,” states the report.

The ministry then gives a breakdown of the spending: Sh887 million (2014-2015 financial year), Sh306 million (2015-2016 financial year) and Sh578 million (2016-2017 financial year). This however adds up to Sh1.7 billion and it is unclear whether some expenditure has been skipped.

The committee also urged the Defence ministry to come up with a comprehensive budget plan and a realistic timeline for its completion.

The legislators rejected this proposal saying the border wall project is not a viable measure against the threat presented by the Somalia-based an Al-Qaeda-linked terror group.

The Members of Kenyan National Assembly have called on the country’s Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) to probe the expenditure.

The leader of Majority in the National Assembly Aden Duale (Garissa Town) demanded that the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) initiates a probe to nab those behind the scandal.

“I have no problem with the wall, but you cannot use the threat of insecurity to steal and plunder money. This project aimed to eat money,” said Mr Duale, adding: “The chair of the committee must bring a recommendation to this report to say that there is no value for money and that Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and DCI must investigate.”

His Minority counterpart John Mbadi (Suba South) claimed the country was using archaic methods to deal with the insecurity threat.

“You are not going to solve this problem by building a wall. That is too mechanical. It looks like the Egyptian pyramids,” said Mr Mbadi. “It cannot work in modern Kenya. This is the 21st Century. Even American President Donald Trump thinks he can stop the Mexicans by building a wall.”

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