Top managers at the Kenya Electricity Transmission Company Limited (Ketraco) have been accused of favoring a particular company in a multi-million tender scandal. The bribery claims came at a time when Ketraco had just welcomed a new acting Managing Director Eng. Isaac Kiva, having joined the firm on the 27th of January 2023 on secondment from the Ministry of Energy.
Officers who are alleged to be behind the scheme are Peter Njehia who is the senior manager of Supply Chain Management, Tom Imbo the general manager of Finance and several senior members of staff in the procurement department. The exposure of the matter has since sent the management into panic mode after the Public Procurement Administrative Board and the High Court rejected the company that had been favoured by the top management. The ruling by the Public Procurement Administrative board dated 24th January 2023 ordered that tender no. KETRACO-ST-009-2021 for the design, construction and commercial operation of Tier IV Data Centre on a revenue sharing model, be awarded to Rentco Africa Limited in Partnership with China Mobile Limited. The company with which the management had struck a deal earlier was El Sewedy Technology of Egypt. Sources say that directors of the Egyptian firm held several secret meetings with the Ketraco procurement managers who promised to ward them the tender after knocking out Rentco Africa on technicalities and specifically on the validity period.
The tender validity period was scheduled to lapse on 28th April 2022, however, Rentco, vide a letter dated 26th April 2022 extended the tender validity period and listed the names of the persons who were to attend a site visit to Singapore at the company’s cost.
Following the request, Rentco went ahead to purchase tickets for all the said persons at an aggregate cost of Ksh. 1,076,430 and a further Ksh. 4,031,838 was also paid as per diem at Ksh. 67l,973 for each staff member. Rentco made the payments under the legitimate expectation that it was participating in the post-qualification due diligence and verification exercise. However, Ketraco failed to award the tender to Rentco but instead watched as the extended tender validity period lapsed.
Ketraco, therefore, acted in breach of the duties imposed by the PPADA by failing to extend the tender validity period leading to a financial loss. Rentco moved to appeal and got an Order of prohibition restraining Ketraco from retendering, advertising or inviting fresh tenders or undertaking any further procurement in respect of the tender in question. Further, orders were sought and granted. An order was granted compelling Ketraco to exercise its powers to extend the tender validity period of the subject tender for 60 days or such period that it deems necessary.
Ketraco’s failure to conclude the due diligence and award the contract is an abuse of the procurement process and its power thus in contravention of the provisions of Article 227(1) of the constitution of Kenya and the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act No. 33 of 2015.
The ruling which was the last nail in Ketraco’s coffin reads in part “The respondents be and are hereby directed to enter into a procurement contract with the applicant and before the tender validity expiry period that has been further extended for a period of 90 days from 26th November 2022”. The orders further read “the 1st respondents be and are hereby directed to award and notify the applicant the award of the tender within seven days of the date of this decision dated 24th January 2023.
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