Senator faults KeNHA on procurement

Thursday, October 15th, 2020 00:00 |
KeNHA roads. Photo/PD/File

Anthony Mwangi and Hillary Mageka

The management of the Kenya Highway Authorities (KeNHA) is on the spot over procurement irregularities and governance malpractices involving roads, which could have led to the misappropriation of Sh82 billion.

The Senate has already demanded a report on the affected roads, most of which were either done poorly or delayed in completion.

Nominated Senator Petronila Were has sought a statement from the Standing Committee on Roads and Transport on allegations of procurement irregularities and governance malpractices at KeNHA.

Were wants the committee to establish whether or not the agency followed procurement procedures in awarding tenders for construction of various roads across the country.

She cites the Webuye-Kakamega road as an example of stalled projects over the years despite the construction having started five years ago.

The company contracted to build the road has sued KeNHA for failing to pay it off before hiring a different contractor as stipulated under the terms of service it signed with the authority on another project, the Kaburengu-Kakamega road. 

Construction and rehabilitation of the road stalled following a court order issued in 2015.

KeNHA had been ordered to pay Vil Limited to allow the government identify a different contractor.

The senator wants the committee to expand their investigation to all the tenders awarded in the last three years with the aim to unearth other massive irregularities in the recent past.

Further, the committee should recommend to the Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission (EACC) to conduct a lifestyle audit on the top management and board of KeNHA.

Wangai Ndirangu chairs the board while Peter Mundinia is the Director General. Other board members are George Wanjau, Protus Sigei, Francis Gitau and Carey Orege.

Were has also asked the committee to recommend to the National Cohesion and Integration Commission to establish the facts on allegations of tribalism and nepotism at the roads agency.

Incomplete projects

Last week, senators put KeNHA on the spot for allegedly overseeing the construction of substandard, stalled and incomplete projects.

The lawmakers claim that despite billions of shillings being spent on mega infrastructure projects, some of the roads had developed cracks while others are in a poor state, barely two years after their completion.

One such project is the Sh30 billion Dongo Kundu bypass supervised by KeNHa, which has started developing cracks forcing the closure of some sections of the road.

The second phase of the Dongo Kundu project estimated at Sh24 billion is ongoing and is expected to be completed in the next one year. 

The senators now want a forensic audit of all the infrastructure projects undertaken by the Jubilee administration since the 2014/ 2015 financial year to date.

“When you look at the issue of most of the projects that have been undertaken in the country, there has been inadequate oversight by the relevant agencies,” Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei said.

“It is sad that the cowboy contractors that were famous in the yesteryears are now on the loose,” he added.

According to Cherargei, KeNHA, which is responsible for the development, rehabilitation, management and maintenance of all national trunk roads, has not been maintaining the roads.

In Nandi, for example, the senator cited the road between Mberere/Kopele in Kisumu and Timboroa, which he claimed is substandard, “yet we have a supervising authority”.

“The road from Rivatex to Kapkatembu has been done in a substandard manner,” the senator said.

“Also, the road from Chepterit to Moi University is being washed away by floods because of the substandard work.” 

He added: “There is danger in Chemuswa. All the roads have been done poorly, yet we have KeNHA which is supposed to be an oversight authority.” 

He asked the Senate Roads and Transport Committee to order an audit and put KeNHA to task for the lack of supervision and oversight of the roads being constructed in the country.

Machakos Senator Boniface Kabaka apportioned the blame on Kenyan engineers, especially civil, structural and mechanical engineers, whom he claimed issued certification for completion of the affected roads.

Kabaka has also proposed that the Penal Code be amended, so that criminal liability is preferred against the errant professional engineers and associate professionals.

“They will not only be surcharged, but also face a stiff penalty of even 50 years in jail and above.

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