What many contractors have been lamenting in silence for fear of further being denied opportunities in Machakos County has come out after a struggle to keep a float. Machakos contractors have not been paid for a while but they did not also come out sooner thinking that the story will not be published in the media.
It seems to the surprise of even the Governor, who is media savvy and hardly any negative news on his country makes it to the airwaves, the contractors demanded that they be paid.
In a story published in the Daily Nation, the contractors and suppliers in Machakos gave the county government seven days to pay up debts amounting to close to Sh2 billion. Members of the Machakos County Contractors and Suppliers Association led by their chairman Barclay Mutinda said
The delay in payment has led to the financial ruin of some our members, resulting in loss of property through auctioning, listing in [the] Credit Reference Bureau, illness and in some cases even stress and death.
Although he was not clear what action they will take, he added that if the government fails to pay up within seven days, the members would convene to decide the next course of action.
In a swift rejoinder, Governor Alfred Mutua came out to defend his county. A statement from the county called the allegations
“misleading statements on pending bills and or unpaid works and supplies in Machakos.”
While admitting that indeed the county has some pending bills, the difference of the amount is what the county is contesting. The county says that the correct amount of pending Bills is sh200m and not the sh2 billion that had been reported.
It further explained that this was a result of the National Treasury deducting the over sh900 million that it had used in paying Health workers and other devolved staﬀ in Machakos.
“These monies had been initially budgeted for other projects which had by the time been awarded and committed in our books and projects already started. The deduction of the cash meant that the budget and earlier commitments were not supported by actual cash remittance hence the pending bills,”
read the statement in part.
As politicians will largely do, the statement further stated that this is more of a political issue, meant to distract the ‘popular maendeleo chap chap’ programs being undertaken in the county.
“Machakos pays for work done and respects value for money. As such no works and or supplies will be paid for without Auditing for Value for Money and for physical presence of the project/supplies. No amount of political bickering will intimidate the Government to bend the rules. We are protecting tax payers’ money.”
Many other suppliers and contractors are still suffering but hoping that one day they will be paid. One contractor who refurbished a health center has not being paid sh800, 000 two years since he finished and handed over the project. He says he gave up following up the money.
When working with government, a contractor is expected to finance the project and the government pays them after delivery. Sometimes commercial institutions come in handy in giving credit but when the timelines for repayment to the banks are not meant, the business is at risk. In addition, failure to pay contractors and suppliers negatively affects liquidity of the business, making it difficult to transact.
It is hoped that this becomes a wake up call to Machakos County to pay contractors and suppliers and not intimidate and victimize those who came out to agitate for what is rightfully theirs.