KISUMU, Kenya, Jul 9 – The Board of Directors at the Lake Basin Development Authority (LBDA) has accused the Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission (EACC) for unduly delaying the occupation of its mall with endless investigations.
The Sh3.8 billion mall that was completed six years ago has not been fully opened up for business as envisaged.
Board Chairman Odoyo Owidi now blames bad publicity occasioned by graft investigations that has led to low uptake of the spaces at the mall.
Board members who convened a press briefing at the mall on Tuesday called upon the anti graft body to speedily concludes the investigations to allow the mall to function optimally.
Owidi who read the press statement to journalists says investigations started way back in 2013 and wondered why it has not completed.
“How can an investigation take six years and nobody goes to court?” he asked.
Owidi said other government state agencies had given the building a clean bill of health.
Recently, the graft body raided the homes of former board members and current staffs and carted away a horde of documents as part of their investigations.
Those arrested for questioning with regard to the project included Kisumu County Assembly Speaker Onyango Oloo who was the former chairman of the board.
Owidi decried constant arrests and intimidation of LBDA staff and former employees.
“In and around this region, there are many other agencies that have spent billions of government money, they have nothing to show for it, yet LBDA has been under constant investigations, statement writing and office raids since 2013,” he said.
On Monday, residents of Kisumu held demonstrations in the lakeside city asking protesting what they termed as a biased investigation.
They termed failure to allow the Sh3.8 billion mall become operational as an act of economic sabotage.
Owidi claimed the arrests of former LBDA officials by the graft agency are an indication that they are after some sinister motives.
Already the Board has written a protest letter to the agency asking them to speed up investigations and arraign the culprits in court.
Owidi said the bad publicity the mall has attracted is not healthy for its survival since most viable tenants tend to shy away.
“Business people fear where there is controversies, they fear where there is always a fight, they fear uncertainty in any management,” he said.
He said the mall had been handed over to LBDA and a few tenants have taken up spaces, some doing business or renovating their spaces.
“Among those tenants already in the mall are Best Western Hotel, Communications Authority of Kenya, and Premier Lounge amongst others,” the LBDA chair remarked.
Odoyo said negotiations are at an advanced stage with the anchor tenant and soon the management of the mall will sign documents with the tenant.