Why Itare scandal could suck in more officials - Beaking Kenya News

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Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Why Itare scandal could suck in more officials

Itare Dam
Even as Directorate of Criminal Investigations head George Kinoti widens his net to nail culprits in the Sh38 billion Itare dam scandal, details have emerged on the flawed tendering for the project.
This comes a day after 11 people, including former Rift Valley Water Works Development Agency board members, spent the better part of Monday at the DCI headquarters off Kiambu Road, Nairobi.
The Nation has established that at the time the tender for the multi-billion-shilling dam project was awarded, the board was not properly constituted.
The agency only had four board members.
It means the board lacked quorum and could not deliberate on or evaluate the tenders.
According to documents seen by the Nation, the last board meeting was on September 27, 2012.
Three members – Lydia Ntimama, Ewoi Lochum and David Kinuthia – then left for politics.
The board also included three Ministry of Water and Environment representatives. Mr Chesaina Bartonjo, the chairman of the organisation, left in October the following year.
It meant that the four who remained – Christine Ndoigo, Nemuel Machuki, Julius Lemaon and Samuel Kaaleng – did not constitute a quorum and could not call meetings concerning the construction of Itare dam.
As a result, the board never had meetings between 2013 and February 14, 2015 when the terms of the remaining members ended.
Strangely though, the most crucial part of the tendering occurred between 2014 and 2015.
Those questioned on Monday included Ms Ntimama, Ms Ndoigo, Mr Lamaon, Mr Machuki, Mr Ewoi Lochom and Mr Kaaleng, all former members the board.
Also questioned were Mr Bartonjo and ministry representatives FK Kyengo, Barrack Amolo and David Yatich.
A senior DCI detective said failure by the government to constitute a proper board during the period was among the matters being looked into.
“We want to know if the lack of quorum was deliberate. It is interesting that the board, which was expected to have a say in the tendering, did not have all the directors,” the detective said.
The then Water and Environment Cabinet Secretary Judi Wakhungu is on the spot for having failed to constitute a proper board.
It is in the period between 2014 and 2015 that submission of tenders, award, signing of the contract agreement and the signing of the Sh4.3 billion non-refundable advance payment to the Italian contractor was done.
According to the documents the Nation is in possession of, the submission of tenders was done on May 16, 2014.
The contract and financing agreement between the government and CMC di Ravenna were signed on May 15 and July 15, 2015 respectively.
Contract documents indicate that the project was approved by the National Environment Management Authority on October 28, 2016.
Construction of the dam has since stalled.
The Water Resources Management Authority approved it on March 13, 2017, before construction began the following month. 
The advance payments that are part of the investigations were given out on September 12, 2015 through Heritage Insurance, which acted as a guarantor.
The Sh4 billion non-refundable advance payment is just a pointer to the number of skeletons in the closet that are beginning to come out as a blame-game between State officials and the firm at the centre of the scandal continues.
The DCI is investigating irregular payments of close to Sh22 billion to the Italian company as well as anomalies in awarding of the contract.
The amounts include Sh5.7 billion paid as insurance, advance payments of Sh 4.3 billion, commitment fee of Sh1.9 billion and the cash paid for work done amounting to Sh 11 billion.
The former board members accuse the Ministry of Water and Environment of having played a big role in the award of the tender.
The investigations are expected to gain momentum in 2020, with more officials to be interrogated.

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