War on terror: MPs reject Kenya-Somalia border wall plan
NAIROBI, Kenya - Members of the National Assembly now want investigators to look into how Sh3.4 billion was used to construct 10 kilometers of the controversial barrier between Kenya and Somalia.
While noting on Wednesday that a border wall is not a viable measure in the fight against Al-Shabaab terrorists, they decried wastage of resources and said the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) should probe this expenditure.
They raised these and other concerns after it emerged that the government is not building an actual to improve homeland security as the people have been led to believe.
The construction is of a wire mesh fence that will regulate movement across the 700-kilometer border with Somalia. The project stretches from border point one in Mandera all the way to Kiunga in Lamu at the Kenyan Coast.
MPs addressed the matter as the House committee on Defence and Foreign Relations tabled its report on the project and urged the government to fast-track its completion.
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.
They said that as such, there is no value for money.
The building of the wall was initiated in 2014 with a partial allocation of Sh887.4 million, the goal being to curb illegal trafficking, terrorism, and illegal immigration.
“These factors spurred from the historical background of Somalia being an unstable country, not a political proclamation and that there was the need to come up with an obstacle to channel people towards one direction,” Katoo Ole Metito (Kajiado South), who chairs the Defence and Foreign Relations committee told the House.
But MPs led by the leader of Majority Aden Duale (Garissa Town) vowed not to allow "a few individuals” to use the insecurity in northern Kenya and the Al-Shabaab threat to steal public funds appropriated by parliament.
Duale told the committee to declare the border wall project is not viable instead of defending it and asking parliament for more money for it.
“Who initiated this investigation? Was there a question by a private member or was it a petition and who took you to Mandera?” he asked.
The project is in three parts - the northern sector from Mandera- Elwak (160 kilometers), the central sector from Elwak to Libat (445 Kilometers) and the southern sector from Libat- Kiunga (105 Kilometers).
All the three sections are being undertaken by local contractors under the supervision of the Kenya Defense Forces (KDF). In the 2015/16 financial year, Sh306.1 million was allocated, and another Sh578.2 given in 2016/17.
“If it is the KDF that took this committee to the site using military aircraft then there is the conflict of interest. From the information I have, the committee was facilitated by the Defence ministry,” Duale said.
Minority leader John Mbadi (Suba South) also faulted the project saying the government should instead invest in proper intelligence-gathering tools and personnel.
“Kenya should not be funding the construction of such a wall but investing in intelligence-gathering technology to limit attacks caused by Al-Shabaab,” he said.
Fafi MP Abdihakim Osman issued similar remarks, saying funds have been misused for a project that has no value to the local community and the country at large.
“This is a white elephant and in a few days to come, Kenyans will be making noise over how funds have been misused because the project makes no sense. Another National Youth Service (NYS) is happening ... we are not going to allow this [sic],” Osman said.
The other MPs who opposed the project include Sophia Abdi (Ijara), Dahir Duale (Dadaab), James Lomenen (Turkana South), and James KOyoo (Muhoroni).
Metito defended it saying, “Walls are not meant to stop wars. The purpose of this is to have a coordinated, controlled and documented access point."