Kenyans react after govt spends Sh48m on airtime, tea and ambulance hire

The Kenyan government has so far spent Ksh 1.3 billion in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, which has so far infected 384 people in the country and claimed 15 lives.

The expenditure is part of the Sh1 billion donated by the World Bank for emergency response, including procurement of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), medicines and setting up of isolation facilities.

But, it is the specifics of how the money was spent that has put a spotlight on the team handling the virus at the Ministry of Health.

According to a report presented to the National Assembly on Wednesday, Sh 330 million was spent on laboratory equipment with Sh277 million funding procurement of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs). Test kits were procured at the cost of Sh196 million while fuel and maintenance of approximately 30 vehicles cost the taxpayer Sh14 million.

What has caught the attention of Kenyans however, is the Sh4 million that was spent for tea and snacks.

This coming shortly after a story of a widow in Mombasa boiled stones for her children, as she has no food, was aired on one of the local television stations.

According to her, she has been boiling stones for the last few days, in the name of cooking to make her hungry children think a meal is being prepared as she has nothing to feed them on.

Her tribulations come despite an announcement by the Governor of that county, Hassan Joho, that people like her would benefit from free food.

That’s not all, the ministry also spent Sh 14.4 million to maintain and fuel 30 vehicles used by its officers across the country, meaning about Sh 40,000 was spent per vehicle every week.

The ministry also spent Sh2 million out of the Sh6 million approved for airtime for some of its 500 staff for a period of three months.

Sh9 million was spent in printing of travelers’ quarantine and discharge forms against the Sh900,000 initial budget.

In its communications, the ministry has spent Sh70 million and a further Sh6.5 million to procure stationery. The ministry had budgeted for Sh2.5 million on stationery, a figure it has surpassed by Sh4 million, according to the document tabled before the committee.

Kenyans shared their thoughts on the expenditure online using #MoneyHeist.

Currently, the ministry is awaiting release of additional Sh2.3 billion from the World Bank to support the response for the remainder of this financial year.