How Kenyans may lose Sh500m in roads tender

Friday, July 24th, 2020 08:55 |
Modern urban highway.

Geoffrey Mosoku

 Taxpayers may lose about Sh500 million after a roads agency bypassed four firms to award a contract to the fifth lowest bidder.

The Kenya Rural Roads Authority (KeRRA) signed the deal with China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) for about Sh2.9 billion when the lowest bidder had quoted Sh2.4 billion.

Contract No. RWC 568 is for improvement to bitumen standards and performance based routine maintenance of the 74-kilometre Mbita-Sindo-Kiabuya-Sori road in Homa Bay and Migori counties.

CCECC got the award notification in a letter dated April 29, 2020 and signed by then Acting Director General Eng. Luka Kimeli.  The tender was advertised in July 2019.

A total of 20 firms had bid for the contract with Chinese firm Chongqing International Construction Corporation emerging the lowest evaluated bidder at Sh2,469,411,261.05

Henan Highways Engineering was listed as second at Sh2,682,055,615.60, J&K Investments Kenya Limited was third at Sh2.711787, 2013.1, Sinohydro emerged fourth at Sh2, 810,754,274.00 while CCECC was fifth at Sh2,933,206,091.64.

The difference between the least evaluated firm and the one awarded the tender is Sh463.8 million.

Yesterday, Kimeli who has since been replaced as the Director General, said he would not comment on the award since he relied on advice from the procurement department. 

 “The decision was made following advice from the head of procurement. You can only get information from that department,” Kimeli said.

When we called KeRRA to seek for a clarification, Suba MP and National Assembly Minority Leader John Mbadi called the reporter alleging a scheme by his detractors to sabotage the project.

“A large portion of this project is in my constituency and I want to warn you not be used to sabotage it. I am aware of a scheme to derail it.

Someone even wrote letters to DCI and EACC seeking to stop the project but we will not allow that,” Mbadi said.

He added in a long telephone rant; “Why are you interested in this project? What’s your intention? Have you been compromised?”

The legislator insisted that he had been pursuing the road project for long and that KeRRA had satisfactorily explained to him circumstances under which CCECC was offered the tender.

“I was the one piling pressure on the PS for Roads to expedite the tendering process. 

After the least evaluated firm declined the award, KeRRA had to go back to the list since I was on their neck,” he said.

According to Mbadi, the roads agency explained to him that following the declination by Chongqing International, Henan and J&K were edged out as they and ‘pending questions’ on Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) compliance with VAT payments.

Piles pressure

The fourth one, Sinohydro had works elsewhere worth over Sh10 billion and thus was knocked out since the contract required a firm that did not have any ongoing works amounting to over Sh10 billion. 

However some of the firms knocked out insisted that they were not given a letter of regret as required by the law.

“That’s how they settled on number five. Personally I wanted Sinohydro to get the job but I was informed that this is a credible firm, and will do the work diligently,” Mbadi added.

The tarmacking of Mbita-Sindo- Magunga -Sori road had stalled since 2011 after a contractor who won the tender experienced hitches. 

Two weeks ago, Mbadi told his constituents that the Handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga made it easy for them to push for the construction of the road.

“The contractor will start the work in 21 days. We thank the government through the handshake which has enabled funding of this project,” Mbadi said on July 7.

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