Kisumu residents demonstrated to compel the national government to clear the Sh2.5 billion bank loan so that the multibillion Lake Basin Development Authority Mall may be opened.
The residents marched outside the Sh4 billion mall in Mamboleo all the way to the Kakamega-Kisumu Highway, chanting slogans against Devolution Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri.
They marched to Kondele area causing a heavy traffic snarl.
Led by the director of Youth Reconciliation Forum of Kenya, Eric Okello, they accused Mr Kiunjuri of delaying the payments despite recommendations by Attorney General Githu Muigai and the Auditor General Edward Ouko.
Prof Muigai had in January written to Mr Kiunjuri on the need to urgently address the matter.
His letter followed another one by Mr Ouko, which recommended that the Treasury and the parent ministry (Devolution) should ensure that the Cooperative Bank loan and co-developer dues are paid in full as soon as possible.
The contractor, Ederman Properties Limited, had borrowed the money using an LBDA title deed to put up the mall in Kisumu.
Mr Okello expressed fear that the mall could be auctioned due to the delay in clearing the arrears.
“In reference to the State Agencies deliberations, we are aware that the Attorney General, who is the advisor to the government, and the Auditor General have advised the Ministry of Devolution to pay the contractor upon receiving the report of the mall,” Mr Okello said Friday.
He went on: “We are also aware that the Sh 2.5 billion is deliberately not being paid so as to accrue interest to make interested bodies purchase the mall at the expense of wananchi.”
Nyando MP Fred Outa, who spoke to Nation separately, gave the government a one-week ultimatum to clear the debt and commission the mall or a mega protest will be organised.
“We are ready with one million people to fight for the mall because it rightly belongs to us. Any attempts to auction it will be met with great resistance,” the MP said.
Equally, the residents threatened to torch the building if it is auctioned.
They also told the authority’s chairman Raphael Tuju to address the issue.