Agency: Probe 23 Kemsa suppliers in Covid tender

Thursday, October 8th, 2020 00:00 |
Kemsa offices.

Hillary Mageka @hillarymageka

A public procurement watchdog agency wants investigative authorities to unmask some 23 clandestine firms that were awarded multi-million-shilling contracts for the supply of Covid-19 kits by the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (Kemsa).

A report by the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) divulges that Kemsa failed or refused to provide tender documents to the authority for review, raising concerns the companies could be non-existent.

“There is need for investigations in the remaining 23 Covid-19 related tenders which were not submitted by Kemsa to PPRA,” the authority has recommended in its report to the Senate joint committee on Health and Covid-19 situation in Kenya.

“There is need for investigations of the receiving and distribution of all the Covid-19 related goods by Kemsa, specifically the warehouse management at Embakasi Warehouse,” it adds.

At the same time, the report on probe into the procurement mess at the drugs authority shows that the procurement of the Covid-19 items was skewed to favour some companies.

Favouritism claims

The damning report reveals that Kemsa favoured Megascope Healthcare (K) Ltd associated with the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce president Richard Ngatia in the procurement of goods.

Megascope was awarded three multi-million-shilling tenders while others were only awarded one tender despite the firms supplying identical items.

“The distribution of the opportunities to supply Kemsa with Covid-19 related items was skewed to favour some suppliers without evidence of justification,” reads the report.

It adds: “For instance, Megascope Healthcare (K) Ltd was awarded three tenders for supply of masks whereas Ziwala Ltd was awarded only one tender for the same item.”

The discrepancies

The report further shows that despite Kemsa handpicking little known companies and briefcase firms, some with no financial track record nor capacity to deliver the emergency Covid-19 medical kits, the authority is yet to receive goods running into millions of shillings, six months after the tender were awarded.

According to the report, a total of 141 tenders were executed by the authority in relation to procurement of Covid-19 items.

“Out of the 141 tenders of the first batch of the procurement documents that were submitted to the authority by close of business on August 5, 2020, only 116 documents were submitted on August 13, 2020, eight days later,” PPRA managing director Maurice Juma read out as he presented the report.

According to him, letters of notification of awards were issued to bidders, but Kemsa did not provide evidence of some bidders’ acceptance.

“Although, we observed that Zebra Investments Ltd who was awarded Tender No. KEMSA/DP160/2019-2020 for Supply of Viral Transport Media, was identified by Kemsa as Government of Kenya Strategic Partner and issued with a commitment letter on June 3, 2020, without meeting eligibility as provided in Section 55 (1) (a) the PPADA, 2015, a response from the PE and Business Registration Services shows that the firm changed from to a limited company on June 14, 2020,” the report recounts.

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