How trader was forced to supply Sh210m goods

Friday, January 29th, 2021 12:00 |
Public Investment Committee chairman Abdulswamad Sheriff during a meeting to investigate utilisation of Covid-19 funds by Kemsa, yesterday. Photo/PD/SAMUEL KARIUKI

The management of the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) forced a trader to deliver Covid-19 related materials worth Sh210 million even after he informed them he could only afford to provide supplies worth Sh130 million.

Appearing before the National Assembly’s Public Investment Committee (PIC) yesterday, Northlink Limited Group Chairman Ahmed Takoy, said he was asked to supply 200,000 N95 masks and 1. 5 million surgical masks and a commitment letter issued by the suspended Chief Executive Jonah Manjari.

However, when he was called to negotiate the deal, Takoy told the authority’s  Commercial Director Eliud Mureithi, that his firm could not afford such a huge contract.

“Mureithi insisted I deliver the supplies but I maintained that I did not have the funds to support the huge supply,” Takoy told the committee chaired by Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir.

Takoy further told the committee that he had been asked to supply Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) at Sh4,590 but the management of Kemsa turned down the offer and instead went for a supplier who supplied them at Sh9,000 per piece.

“I sought to supply PPEs at Sh4,590 per piece, 3-ply surgical masks at Sh90 per unit and N95 masks Sh900, but my offer was turned down and the agency went for those selling at Sh9,000,” Takoy revealed.

Northlink Limited went ahead to supply the 1.5 million surgical masks at Sh90 each, totaling Sh130 million on April 8, 2020.

Takoy said it was his first time to do business with Kemsa, explaining that he applied for the tender like any other interested businessperson.

The committee is reviewing the special audit report on the utilisation of the Covid -19 funds by Kemsa.

A director of another company narrated to the committee how a senior Kemsa official went out of his way to write to a local bank to give her an overdraft to finance the supply of materials worth Sh140 million.

Meraky Healthcare Limited Managing Director Wairimu Mbogo was awarded a tender to supply 200,000 face masks at a cost of Sh140 million, a figure she could not raise.

Protective equipment

In a letter to Equity Bank, Waiganjo Karanja, the Kemsa Director Finance and Strategy stated: “We wish to inform you that the above named are our suppliers. We have contracted them to supply 200,000 personal protective equipment (N95 masks).

We confirm that the supplier has instructed us to remit their payments for commodities delivered to our warehouse against the contract to the bank account as detailed.”

The payment point, the letter reads, will only be changed through fresh written instructions from the supplier.

Nyeri Woman Rep Rahab Mukami said it was puzzling that a firm could just walk into Kemsa offices with a letter of intent and within 24 hours secure approval to make the supplies.

“I find it hard to believe how you can walk into an office and walk out with a tender worth Sh140 million,” said Mukami.

Mbogo denied that she was backed by powerful forces to win the tender, saying  she has done business with Government and has never been involved in underhand dealings.

Nassir described the procurement by the agency as strange and in total violation of the law even as it emerged that all the companies contracted by the agency supplied at a uniform price.

“This kind of procurement has never been used anywhere. All suppliers who have come here say procurement law was not followed because there was panic.

It is strange that every supplier negotiated the same price for the items they supplied,” said the chair.

More on News