Confusion as PDU, innovators trade accusations about Covid-19 beds
Clement Kamau and Mercy Mwai
President Uhuru Kenyatta’s order for the purchase of 500 locally manufactured beds in the fight against corinavirus disease has sparked an ugly war between the Presidential Delivery Unit (PDU) and two local innovators.
While the local innovators Mungai Gathogo, 26, and Joseph Muhinja, 35, based in Githunguri, Kiambu County claimed that they were wallowing in debts and staring at auctioneers due to the government’s failure to procure the beds after they took bank loans to meet their obligations.
PDU on the other hand said the government failed to buy the beds after it emerged that the innovators had criminal records and that the beds were not ready.
He said a lorry hired to ferry the beds was forced to return empty after it emerged there was no such goods despite Gathogo’’s oft-repeated claims in the media.
“But at their workshop yesterday, there was little evidence of any activities. ‘We came here prepared to buy all the beds and other materials these young men claim to have made or procured,” head of PDU Andrew Wakahiu added.
He added: “We came here prepared to buy all the beds and other materials these young men claim to have made or procured.
Regardless of the controversies around the young man and the firm’s ownership, as a Government, we don’t want their lives ruined by debt.”
Wakahiu who on Monday visited the furniture dealers at their Githunguri cottage industry, told them that the government would not honour its pledges after it obtained intelligence that Gathogo, was facing at least three cases related to fraud and obtaining money by pretence.
“ The government’s intention to procure locally manufactured hospital beds from two young entrepreneurs in Githunguri, Kiambu County ran into headwinds after it emerged that one of the men was facing several criminal allegations”, Wakahiu said.
He explained that as soon as they began the process of formalizing the offer, a complainant arose from Nakuru where Gathogo was accused of conning un-unnamed individual Sh 800, 000 tleading to him being locked up at Githunguri police cells for three days.
Records at the Githunguri police station indicate Gathogo has at least three pending criminal cases: OB 35/05/11/2019 and OB 64/05/11/2019 relating to obtaining money by false pretence and OB 51/21/10/2020 relating to an incident over the disappearance of motor vehicle he had allegedly hired.
Wakahiu was responding to protests by the innovators and Kiambu County Woman Representative Gathoni wa Muchomba who accused the government of failure to procure the beds.