Kenyan lawmakers angry over border fence spending


Lawmakers in Kenya are outraged that the government has spent about $35m (£26m) on building a 10km (about six miles) wire fence along the border with Somalia to block militant Islamists from crossing over.

The lawmakers believe that people within Kenya’s security ministries have taken advantage of the threat posed by the Somalia-headquartered al-Shabab group to steal public money.

Details of the spending came out in an official report tabled in the National Assembly on Wednesday.

The $35m translates to a staggering $3m per kilomtere for a fence made of chain link, barbed wire and concrete poles.

That is more than double the money the Kenyan government has set aside for its Strategic Food reserve programme for the 2018-2019 financial year.

It is also nearly $1m more than the amount the country is spending to roll out universal healthcare countrywide, and triple the money set aside this financial year to build affordable housing.

If they built four more kilometres at the same cost, it would come to $43m, which would equal the total amount Kenya is spending on providing free maternal healthcare this year.

The government initially announced that it would build a 700km wall along the porous border to limit incursions by al-Shabab fighters. But when construction began in 2015, there was a fence instead.

The government has not yet responded to the latest concerns of lawmakers, some of whom have also questioned the wisdom of building a fence to fight terrorism.