Safety fears as Likoni weighbridges not used — Ouko

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• KFS has abandoned two weighbridges installed for Sh26.7 million and relies on lorry drivers’ information.

• Ouko says government probably losing revenue for not using weighbridges.

Auditor General Edward Ouko has raised safety concerns about overloaded ferries at the Likoni Channel in Mombasa.

In his 2017-18 report, Ouko says Kenya Ferry Services Limited no longer checks the weight of vehicles entering the ferries.

This failure risks the lives of thousands of residents using the transport daily, the audit team said.

Ouko’s report tabled by National Assembly Majority leader Aden Duale last Thursday.

Ouko says KFS has abandoned the two weighbridges it installed for Sh26.7 million weigh motor vehicles and other heavy loads.

The management had said the weighbridges were installed on both sides of the channel to improve safety by estimating the weight of vehicles and ensuring ferries were not overloaded.

But the auditor said KFS no longer uses the weighbridges and instead relies on information provided by drivers.

“There was no evidence showing that the weights of motor vehicles measured through the weighbridges are used to control the number of motor vehicles that board the ferries. The status remains the same during the year under review,” Ouko said.

An estimated 300,000 people and more than 3,000 vehicles use the Likoni ferry service daily.

In 1994, Kenya experienced its worst sea accident when a ferry sank with about 400 passengers at Mtongwe in Mombasa. The ferry had a capacity of 300 passengers.

The audit team says that despite the weighbridges having been integrated with revenue systems, KFS does not use them to charge for use of its ferries by motor vehicles.

Again, it relies on quantities provided by drivers, raising concerns KFS could be losing millions of shillings in revenue daily.

During the year, KFS collected Sh478 million from motorists, but the auditor said the amount could have been higher had the authority used the weighbridges for accurate measurements.

Ouko also questioned the deal KFS signed with a Turkish manufacturer in 2015 to supply two ferries — the MV Jambo and MV Safari — for Sh1.86 billion.

Despite the contract stating that the ferries were to be delivered 17 months after the contract was signed on June 25, 2015, only the MV Jambo has been delivered. It was launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2017.

The report said the Kenya Revenue Authority lost more than Sh155 million in revenue after KFS made a down payment of Sh598 million to the ferries’ supplier. 

Despite KRA’s advice, It failed to withhold six per cent VAT and withholding tax of 20 per cent for a non-resident company as provided for in lawn.

“An email to the supplier dated January 9, 2019, requesting direct confirmation of the amount received from KFS for the second ferry, the outstanding balance and the expected date of delivery of the ferry has not been responded to,” the report read.

The report also flags unauthorised expenditure totalling Sh14 million on external law firms.

The spending is contrary to a circular by Attorney General Kihara Kariuki that all state institutions must seek approval from his office before hiring outside lawyers.

Ouko’s report also revealed glaring variance between the bank and cash balances, amounting to Sh724, 742 in the KFS books.

The report also casts doubt on an expenditure of more than Sh1.5 billion at the KFS.

SOURCE: the-star.co.ke


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