The tiff between governors and senators over the use of Sh17 billion Road Levy Fund has worsened with the lawmakers ordering the arrest of Bomet Governor Hillary Barchok.

The Senate Roads and Transportation Committee on Thursday directed police IG Hillary Mutyambai to arrest and drag Barchok to the panel to explain how his county used the funds.

The committee chaired by Kiambu Senator Kimani Wamatangi has also summoned five other governors to appear before the team.

The order for Barchok’s arrest came after he skipped an invitation and subsequent summon, forcing the committee to trigger the provisions of the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act, 2017.

Section 27 of the Act allows parliamentary committees to order for arrest or fine witnesses who fail to appear to produce evidence.

Among those summoned are Sospeter Ojaamong (Busia), Ali Roba (Mandera), Anyang’ Nyong’o (Kisumu), Paul Chepkwony (Kericho), Okoth Obado (Migori) and James Ongwae (Kisii).

They have all been summoned to appear on different days next week failing which the committee will order their arrest or fine them Sh500,000 each.

“Take notice that should you fail to attend before the committee on the date and time specified, the committee may impose upon you a fine not exceeding Sh500,000 or order for your arrest,” the committee said in letters sent to the governors.

“You may also be guilty of an offence for which you shall be liable, on conviction, to a fine not exceeding Sh200,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or both fine and imprisonment.”

Senators and governors have bitterly on the usage of the fund.

The governors, through their umbrella body, the Council of Governors, has rejected an invitation and summonses by the committee for the county chiefs to appear before the lawmakers to account for the road maintenance fuel levy funds.

Senators also want the governors to explain the expenditures of billions of shillings donated by the World Bank under the Kenya Devolution Support Programme in the last three fiscal years.

The county bosses said the funds fall under the oversight of a separate Senate committee – the County Public Accounts and Investments Committee – adding that summoning them to appear before the roads panel amounts to duplication of roles.

CoG chairman Martin Wambora said the oversight of the funds, which is classified as conditional grants and are subject to audit by the Auditor-General, is the mandate of CPAIC.

“We note that the Senate Committee on Transport has continued to summon governors over the transport levy,” Wambora said in a letter to Speaker Kenneth Lusaka

“Therefore, subjecting county governments to appear before both committees for the same purpose indicates duplication of functions at the Senate and time consuming to county governments,” he said.

Wambora added, “Thus, the county governments will not appear before the standing committee on roads and transportation for the above subject.”

The road maintenance fuel levy funds are taxes from motorists from fuel purchases at Sh18 per litre of petrol and diesel. It is distributed by the Kenya Roads Board.

It is shared among the counties and other agencies – Kenya National Highways Authority, the Kenya Rural Roads Authority, The Kenya Urban Roads Authority and the Kenya Wildlife Service to maintain roads.

In 2017-18, the board disbursed Sh8.26 billion to the counties. Some Sh8.98 billion went to the devolved units in 2018-19.

The cash is released to the counties as a grant. 

However, in the current financial year, the Treasury made it part of the Sh370 billion allocated to the counties as shareable revenue.

By The Star

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