Our Creditors Are On Our Necks: Carpenters Tell Magoha, Demand Their Pay
Artisans who were tasked by the ministry of education to make desks under the economic stimulus programmes have expressed frustrations over delayed payment, several days after delivering the kSh1.9 billion desks and chairs for public primary and secondary schools.
This is despite having been promised by Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha and Basic Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang that they would be paid by November 6.
“For those who have completed and delivered, we will start paying them from Friday. Everything is ready,” Prof Magoha said in Kisii, on 30th October. Dr Kipsang confirmed Magoha’s statements that the artisans would be paid immediately upon delivery of the desks.
“We borrowed the money to supply the desks and those we owe know that we delivered and were paid. It is so embarrassing to keep telling them lies,” said a carpenter in Vihiga County. The physically handicapped carpenter said he borrowed about Sh300, 000 to make the desks.
“I spent Sh5, 000 to deliver the desks to schools and to date I am yet to pay the transporter. And I did this to beat the deadline for delivery,” he said. The deadline was 27th October.
It is emerging that the artisans may wait longer as ministry officials go through procurement processes before payment approvals are done. The sub-county procurement inspection and acceptance committee must be submitted to the county head office for approval.
“This report is critical because it details whether the desks, chairs and lockers were of the specified quality and if they met set standards,” said a sub-county director.
As per the plan, two planning and execution committees were formed and chaired by county commissioners at the county level and Deputy County Commissioners at the sub county level.
Deputy county commissioners were tasked to lead their teams in confirming the quality of the furniture and compliance with the specifications with the prototypes and ensure proper labeling before delivery to schools.
The county and sub-county committees were tasked to ensure that the benefiting schools are well distributed geographically.
Only verified work will be paid
Magoha earlier on stressed that only verified work will be paid. “…and of course we shall pay for what we have verified which is very top quality,” he said.
Once verified, the artisans will receive their money through mobile money transfer. Most of the carpenters borrowed money, to be repaid with huge interests since they lacked financial muscles to fulfill such a project.
“The interest is growing each day and some of us have even gone to the County Commissioner’s office to ask for payment but we are told that the money is available but some process is delaying the release of the cash,” said a Nairobi-based carpenter.
A section of artisans have raised complaints that the cost of assembling the desks and chairs was higher than what the ministry prescribed.
The Ministry budgeted with ksh. 2, 500 for each primary school desk and ksh.3, 800 for a set of locker and chair for secondary school learners. The artisans, however, argue that the cost of assembling a desk and locker was Sh5, 151.
Magoha however claimed that a unit at the ministry had been inflated by Sh1, 700, which meant that only 250,000 desks would be supplied.
“The government will now be able to supply 622,157 locally assembled desks to 5,136 public primary (359,450 desks) and 5,243 public secondary schools (262,707 desks, lockers and chairs),” said Magoha.