The tale of Sh40m dud bulletproof jackets

Wednesday, December 11th, 2019 00:00 |
Correctional Service Principal Secretary Zainab Hussein at a past hearing before National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee. Photo/PD/FILE

The Prisons Department approved expenditure worth Sh43 million for bulletproof jackets that cannot withstand rifle fire or knife stabs, it emerged yesterday. 

Consequently, Members of the National Assembly want the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) to investigate and prosecute top prisons officials who approved the expenditure.

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) told the EACC to establish whether there was loss of public money in the expenditure after the committee failed to ascertain whether there was value for money in the procurement of the jackets.

The report was tabled in the National Assembly yesterday and the EACC has three months to probe the matter.

“The EACC is directed to carry out investigation into the expenditure totaling Sh43 million on the procurement of the bullet-proof jackets with a view to establishing whether there was loss of public money and initiating prosecution against persons found culpable, within three months upon adoption of this report,” the report reads.

Correctional Service Principal Secretary Zainab Hussein admitted that the department acquired the jackets at a cost of Sh22.7 million while vests cost Sh20.99 million, but they did not include ballistic panels to protect against rifle fire and sharp instruments.

She said the ballistic plate is an additional item in the specifications, which was not included in the order. All the items supplied were subjected to ballistic tests at Prisons Staff Training College (PSTC) shooting range and short-range calibre weapons were used.

She explained that during the practical exercise of shooting at the vests and jackets, it was established that they could withstand bullet penetration by Ceska pistol, Taurus pistol, Smith and Wesson pistol at 10 metres and MP5 at 15 metres.

 “In this regard, purchases were for use on a pilot basis and training and not for combat purpose in Prisons Staff Training College and a few selected Maximum-Security Prisons. This is also to bring to your attention that the local purchase order raised only requested for bulletproof jackets as stated in the specifications,” she said.

The committee recommendations came after a report by former Auditor General Edward Ouko disclosed that the 600 body armoured jackets were delivered to the department without the ballistic plates that offer protection against bullets. 

Ouko said the department did not obtain value for money in respect of expenditure worth Sh43.27 million. He explained that an audit revealed  the body armours did not have ballistic panels and could not be used to protect staff against rifle fire, ammunition, knife stab and sharp or pointed instruments.

Watertight system

The MPs also want the Correctional Service PS to put in place a watertight system of verifying delivery of firewood within three months after the department irregularly spent Sh171.9 million to procure firewood for 10 prisons.

The committee expressed concern that no documentary evidence of inspection of deliveries was provided for audit review after it emerged that when weighing tonnage, the department only observes a lorry carrying the firewood and concludes that it is of the right quantity.

The move came after the Auditor General raised concerns that no documentary evidence of inspection of deliveries was provided for audit review.

In addition, the Auditor General said the prisons department did not have weighing scales for the firewood and it is not clear how the actual tonnage of firewood delivered was determined.

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