The move by the government to install a Passenger Information (API) system at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) has put the interior ministry on the spot over inflation of the tender which could see taxpayers lose millions of shillings.
This is compared to other countries where the multi-national has delivered similar services.
Interior CS Kithure Kindiki’s ministry is behind the deal that could see taxpayers pay more than the value of the services being offered Geneva headquartered-SITA (Société Internationale de Télécommunications Aéronautiques).
SITA is a multinational information technology company providing IT and telecommunication services to the air transport industry.
President William Ruto’s government is said to have significantly escalated the cost of services, despite their significantly lower prices in other countries.
This surge in expenses is further amplified by the irregular procurement process, or rather its complete absence, despite the legal requirement outlined in the procurement laws.
A compelling example is the contract for the secure transmission of API (Advance Passenger Information) and PNR (Passenger Name Record) information, which facilitates the pre-arrival and departure communication of airline flight manifests with passenger details.
For example in Brazil, a comparable service is offered by the company at an annual cost of BR$ 1.733.342,37 Brazilian reals, equivalent to approximately $ 362,000.
This is equivalent to Ksh243.4 million.
Astonishingly, in Kenya, the same service provided by the company carries an exorbitant price tag of approximately $ 12,000,000 per year or Ksh1.7 billion.
Considering that Brazil receives approximately 21 million international passengers annually, while Kenya handles around six million, it becomes means that Brazil pays a cost of $0.0172 cents per passenger about Sh2, whereas Kenya will pay $2 per passenger.
This is equivalent to Sh280 for the same services, raising questions over the deal and it’s beneficiaries.
“The glaring question arises as to why the same services provided by the same company are 100 times more expensive in Kenya compared to other countries,” a local supplier who spoke on anonymity due to the sensitivity of the subject, said.
They are among local players and international companies that want the deal scrutinized to save taxpayers from losses, in an economy that is struggling with rising debt that is undermining development in the country, at a time when households are struggling with a high cost of living and over burdened by taxes to bridge budget deficit.
“There is need for prompt inquiries regarding the individuals involved and their potential business connections with the government. Are there additional ventures that they have with the government, which may contribute to these irregularities?,” the companies posed.
This also raises questions over fairness in the tendering process which is said to have deprived local companies of an equitable opportunity to participate in the tender process, ensuring transparency and fair competition.
According to CS Kindiki, plans are underway to install the Advanced Passenger Information (API) system as well as e-Gates at the country’s entry points for easy profiling of passengers and convenience.
The systems, the CS said, will be critical in boosting the country’s security and eliminating queues as passengers await their immigration stamps.
The APIS and e-Gates will be installed at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) as well as all ports of entry.
The systems will be integrated into the international immigration system to enable one to profile passengers travelling in and out of Kenya and even those transiting through the country before they land.
“APIS will be supplemented with the installation of e-Gates at JKIA and our Ports of Entry. Besides being a major boost in assisting our immigration and security endeavours, this APIS system and e-Gates will eliminate queues at our immigration counters,” CS Kindiki said.
The tender is the latest that has raised questions over under dealings in the Kenya Kwanza administration, which undermines President Ruto’s commitment to fight corruption.
A number of questionable dealings have also been reported at the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (Kemsa) and the recent importation of cooking oil by the government, where prices as are also said to be inflated with some local individuals and companies minting billions.