Villagers turn abandoned ECDE centre in Kericho into 'lodging'
- The Nation found the centre, which is in an unfenced compound, deserted and devoid of songs and noises that characterise a classroom.
- Residents of Kabirer said the incomplete but usable building was put up in 2014 by the county government.
- They say that there are allegations that some people wanted the centre to lie idle and be forgotten so that they could turn it into a private school.
An idle early childhood development education (ECDE) centre in Kericho has been converted into a village lodging, years after its completion stalled.
Kabirer Early Childhood Development Education Centre in Soin Sigowet Sub-County is among tens of centres that have stalled, yet indicated as complete and paid for in the county government’s status report.
The Nation found the centre, which is in an unfenced compound, deserted and devoid of songs and noises that characterise a classroom.
The wooden door was written in chalk, “Sure condom” and sure enough, after unbolting the door, pieces of used condoms were strewn on the dusty floor of the abandoned learning centre.
Mr Wesly Bor and Ms Ruth Kirui, both residents of Kabirer, said the incomplete but usable building was put up in 2014 by the county government.
“The building has never been used. It lacks desks, blackboard and a toilet. It’s also not fenced. We are calling upon the county government to help us speed up the completion,” said Mr Bor.
Locals said they are willing to complete the toilet and buy furniture so that their children can be relieved from walking long distances to school.
But they say that there are allegations that some people wanted the centre to lie idle and be forgotten so that they could turn it into a private school.
“The contractor dug a latrine and left it gaping. We are yet be told of the way forward in this project,” said Mrs Kirui.
Governor Paul Chepkwony’s administration had promised to build a total of 650 ECDE centres and 17 ablution blocs in each ward between 2013 and 2017.
The Nation has since established that whereas one of the projects indicated as complete is non-existent, several of those constructed do not meet the required standards, either lacking furniture and toilets, or the quality of the classroom is wanting.
The ECDE centres include Ogirgir, Kisabei, Lemeiywet, Kapcheluch, Chepkin, Kimugul in Kipkelion East, Koiyet, Kibolgony and Sosit and Koitalel, all of which are either incomplete or in an inhabitable condition.
Building of Kesainet centre in Sigowet-Soin did not start at all, despite being allocated Sh750,000, the approximate amount that was set for putting up a fully-fledged ECDE centre.
Although Sosit ECDE centre is in use, its walls are already cracked, floor chipped and is only furnished with five desks for its nearly 30 pupils.
Pupils learn under an uncomfortable environment while teachers work from under a tree as they do not have a staff room.
Mrs Fancy Ngeno, the acting headteacher of Sosit Primary School, said the ECDE pupils are forced to share toilets with others in upper primary.
“The contractor dug a pit and left it open, hence endangering the lives of the children. Since July 2014, we have not heard from the county government about the way forward and we are urging them to complete the projects and furnish us with desks,” she told Nation at the school.
Mr Bernard Korir, the former county Education chief officer who has since been transferred to ICT, defended the county, saying the problem arose because authorities had chosen for quantity as opposed to quality.
"Kericho managed to construct over 600 ECDEs at a flat rate of 750,000. After deductions, the contractor would get only Sh500,000 hence affecting profitability. This led them to do shoddy work," said Mr Korir.
In addition, he said the initial budget for ECDEs had been set at Sh74 million but was later slashed by Sh25 million hence affecting the building of ablution blocks.
But he insisted that some of the centres are up to standard.
Mr Korir said Kesainet School was moved due to land squabbles.
Kericho Senator Aaron Cheruiyot on Tuesday held a meeting with all the MCAs over, among other things, the slow pace of completion of projects in the county.
Mr Cheruiyot, County Assembly Majority Leader Hezron Cheruiyot and Speaker Dominic Rono said they are compiling a list of projects that have stalled so as to evaluate the performance of officers under the executive and later hold to account those who are sleeping on their jobs.
“As the oversight wing of the county, we are responding to grave concerns by residents over various issues including stalled projects, those funded and taxpayers’ money released but have never been commissioned or used,” said Senator Cheruiyot.
The Speaker said that the assembly had done all that is within its mandate in terms of resource allocation, but that projects are yet to be rolled out.
“This process has taken far too long with various excuses being given by the executive. In the next 14 days, we shall take action as envisaged in the standing orders and the County Government Act including sanctioning responsible officers,” said Mr Rono.
The Majority Leader said, “I have asked all the MCAs to give me a list of stalled projects in their wards. We will then move round inspecting these projects and call to account officers who are sleeping on their jobs.”
Other mega projects that stalled yet have used millions of shillings include the Roret pineapple processing plant for which Sh7 million has been paid to a local contractor, Kapkatet Hospital casualty section for which Sh10 million was paid three years ago yet it has not been commissioned, Chebulu conservancy (Sh80 million), Chepcholio water project in Kipkelion worth Sh10 million yet not commissioned and boreholes that were dug but have no water.