• Sat. Oct 24th, 2020

Senators have called for investigations into how billions of shillings meant to battle the destructive desert locusts were used by the Ministry of Agriculture. The legislators dread some of the money was likely averted into the pockets of dishonest officials.  They said the country’s attention on the desert locusts jeopardy shifted after the Covid-19 pandemic broke out in March.  

Bomet Senator Christopher Langat said the investigation will enable the House to understand how the money put into fighting the locusts was used. “Who knows? It could be another very huge scandal that is hiding behind Covid-19,” Langat said.The lawmakers said there was a pressing need to unearth both the spending and contractors whom the Ministry engaged in fighting the insects.

The desert locusts crossed over into the country from neighboring Ethiopia in December last year. They attacked at least 26 counties in Northeastern, Eastern, Central and parts of Rift Valley, destroying huge tracks of farmland. They could land again on the winds in November.

The government mobilized resources, including donations from international partners, such as the Food and Agriculture Organization, to fight the insects. “The problem with Kenya is that people become multibillionaires out of pandemics and epidemics. When there is drought a lot of money is used, but nothing happens on the ground,” Wajir Senator Abdullahi Ali said. Wajir was one of the counties relentlessly infested by the locusts.

Meru Senator Mithinka Linturi said that just as with like Covid-19 pandemic, the country was unprepared for the invasion. As an emergency, ministry officials could have used direct procurement for the necessary supplies. “In most cases, many millionaires have been created in this country out of emergencies. I am sure that most procurements within the Ministry of Agriculture must have been emergency procurements,” he said. 

“Seeing that they were emergency procurements, the right procurement procedures were probably not followed. For that matter, getting value for money could have been an issue.”  Nominated Senator Naomi Shiyonga, stressed on the need to establish whether the heavy deployment of aircraft and personnel to fight the locusts actually controlled the menace. “We do not know where those programs disappeared to when Covid-19 broke out. That money might be somewhere and those programs might have stopped.”

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