Disgruntled employees at the National Irrigation Board have called on Uhuru Kenyatta to order a probe on financial impropriety at the firm.
Speaking on strict condition of anonymity, the employees accused the chief executive officer, Daniel Barasa of presiding over massive misappropriation of resources at the giant organisation, adding that their efforts to have the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission probe the matter have fallen on deaf ears.
“We have written several letters to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission detailing the malpractices at the National Irrigation Board but they have not been acted on. We believe someone is shielding Barasa and the cartel ruining the irrigation body,” said the employees.
The employees called for a staff audit to help unearth the massive corruption at the body, noting that some managers were transferring their loot to proxies to cover them in case a probe was ordered.
They accused Barasa of influencing MPs to cover up the illegal award of a multi-billion tender to an Israel firm among other malpractices.
In August this year members of the parliamentary agriculture committee led by the chairman Adan Nooru and Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandai questioned Barasa on the award of a Sh14.2 billion Galana-Kulalu model farm contract.
The contract for the development of the model farm was awarded to Israel’s Green Arava. The lawmakers had sought to know why and how the tender was awarded without competitive tendering.
The farm consists of an irrigation system complete with green houses, pumping stations, a logistical centre, agricultural machinery among others and is meant to test the irrigation model that will see a million acres of the Galana and Kulalu ranches — in Kilifi and Tana River counties — put under irrigation.
Green Arava is the parent company of Agri-Green Consultants, the experts who were retained to carry out the study. The firm undertook a Sh920 million consultancy on the irrigation technologies for the million-acre project.
Responding to the queries, Barasa said the deal was awarded to Green Arava of Israel because the government was giving Sh3.5 billion for the project with the Israeli government providing Sh11 billion.
Committee chairman Noor Mohammed directed the board to give details on the irrigation project. But up to now the MPs report has not been made public.
The disgruntled employees also accused the board of directors of failing to act on corruption cases and also influencing the illegal extension of Barasa’s contract.
In April this year the president appointed six new board directors for the National Irrigation Board to serve for a three-year term. Those appointed are Isack Maiyo, Pacifia Wekesa, Teresia Mushira, Francis Githuki, Japheth Rutere and Anna Nyambu. They joined the chairman of the Board, Sammy Letema who was appointed in January 2014, in overseeing the activities of National Irrigation Board.
Recently rice farmers in Budalang’i raised the red flag over corrupt dealings by officials of the National Irrigation Board and a cooperative society in the region.
Busia county executive member for trade Hillary Makhulu blew the whistle on corrupt dealings between NIB officials and the Magombe Multipurpose. He accused the officials of forming an amorphous body called Bunyala Irrigation Scheme Revolving Fund, where millions of shillings belonging to farmers were channelled in a questionable manner.
The revelations came as employees at Bura Irrigation Scheme under the National Irrigation Board accused the management of paying them meagre and delaying their salaries.
The employees blamed the scheme’s manager Peter Njeru for their predicament.