Puzzle of one-month-old company awarded lucrative tender
Hillary Mageka @hillarymageka
Senators were yesterday attempting to unravel how a one-month-old briefcase company with a ‘single’ director was awarded lucrative contracts by the troubled Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa).
James Cheluley, the sole director of Shop N Buy, a firm registered on February 14, walked into Kemsa premises and delivered a letter of intention.
A day later, the firm was awarded a lucrative tender worth over Sh900 million for the supply of Covid-19 related goods.
Cheluley, while appearing via zoom before the Senate Committee on Health, was at pains to explain how he won the tender despite having no history of doing business in the country.
Shop N Buy is among 50 companies on the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) radar, for its role in the questionable deals that have left Kemsa with Sh6.2 billion stock it is unable to dispose of, unless at a loss.
“Can you walk us through how you did it, registered a company and in less than a month you supplied goods worth billions of shillings to Kemsa,” Narok Senator Ledama ole Kina posed.
Cheluley, however, maintained that he had been in business for over 20 years contrary to perceptions that he was greenhorn in entrepreneurship.
“I have been in business for more than 20 years. I have other companies. My partners and I consolidated the little resources we had and made deposits to our suppliers in China who had faith in us,” he stated.
He added: “In fact, we had shown the suppliers a commitment letter from Kemsa, which acted as our bond that enabled us to get the goods.” His response irked some of the senators, who accused him of taking them for a ride.
“Mr Cheluley, do not go that direction. Kemsa cannot be a guarantee because it is not a bank. Do not try mislead this committee,” Kisumu Senator Fred Outa remarked.
“The director is really amusing us. The company was registered in February 14, then it is ready to supply goods worth billions of shillings in less than a month, is that legal in Kenya?”Posed Outa.
In defense, Cheluley clarified that Kemsa’s commitment letter helped his firm source for the goods from abroad.