Kenya’s Wire Border Fence That Cost $35m For Just 10km Is Under Investigation

Kenyan members of parliament have asked how a 10km wire fence built along the country's border with Somalia cost $35 million. 4 min

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The Initial Plan

In 2014, the government announced they would build a 708km wall made up of a series of concrete barriers, fences, ditches, and observation posts overlooked by CCTV stations.

Under this plan, the wall was meant to stretch from the Indian Ocean all the way to the border region of Mandera, where Kenya and Somalia meet Ethiopia.

Why such a plan?

It was to tackle illegal trafficking and immigration – and most pressingly, to keep al-Shabab militants in Somalia from crossing over into Kenyan territory.

Kenya had suffered a series of devastating attacks at the hands of al-Shabab. In 2014 BBC reported  a massacre in a quarry in Mandera, in which 36 non-Muslims were killed.

So in 2015 construction was started! 

So why is it under investigation?

Instead of the “708km wall made up of series of concrete barriers, fences, ditches, and observation posts overlooked by CCTV stations.” What is seen in 2018 is a chain-link and barbed wire fence that is just 10km long.

Altogether it cost 3.4 billion Kenyan shillings – that is, $35 million for a 10km long wire fence! very questionable, because that works out to around $3 million per kilometre.

To put this in perspective, the BBC's Ferdinand Omondi in Nairobi notes that this is more than double the amount of money the Kenyan government has put aside for its strategic food reserves this year. It is also about a million dollars more than what Kenya is spending on universal healthcare, and three times the amount it has set aside for affordable housing.

This is how MPs responded;

To put it short, Kenyan MPs are not happy with the situation, and a demanding how the funds are spent!

Speaking in parliament, some politicians questioned how effective a wire fence could really be able to keep militants out of the country.

Others went further, and said that they suspected corruption – specifically, that officials may have taken advantage of the threat from al-Shabab in order to steal money from the public.

John Mbadi, Minority Leader in Kenya's National Assembly, said that a physical wall was a waste of funds, adding: 

"Kenya should not be funding the construction of such a wall but investing in intelligence-gathering technology to limit attacks caused by al-Shabab."

Parliament has now blocked any further allocation of funds to the fence, and has demanded that the state explains where the millions of dollars spent so far have gone.

The fence has been built under the supervision of Kenya's military, and their accounts are classified.

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