The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) is investigating top officials at the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA) in relation to a controversial Ksh.7.7 billion tender for the emergency procurement of COVID-19 Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) that was to be delivered by July 22, 2020.
EACC is concerned that the tender was hurriedly awarded to a company known as KILIG limited using direct procurement under the cover of emergency needs, despite the fact that they were given three months to supply as opposed to one month.
KEMSA Board Chairman, ex-Senator Kembi Gitura, says even though the investigations are yet to be concluded, any of the top officials charged will have to step aside if it gets to that point.
When the coronavirus pandemic reached the country on March 13 this year, many agencies and Kenyans went into overdrive to achieve preparedness to handle the outbreak.
KEMSA being the sole agency mandated to procure essential medical commodities for government facilities hurriedly sought to procure what they termed health products and technologies, whose details are complete PPE kits comprising overall, goggles, masks, boots and gloves.
While this was a noble initiative, it is the details that are alarming; As per KEMSA’s approved budget, only Ksh.4.7 billion should have gone into the procurement. Meaning the commitment letters issued by KEMSA exceeded budget by Ksh.3 billion.
The tender was for procurement of 450,000 kits, each valued at Ksh.9,000. KILIG Limited was identified through direct procurement, with questions now being raised over this mode was chosen for such an expensive tender.
In a letter signed by KEMSA CEO Dr. Jonah Manjari Mwangi, KILIG was granted three months to deliver the supplies.
KEMSA Procurement Director Charles Juma wrote to his CEO in April and June raising questions over why KILIG was chosen in direct procurement for a tender that should essentially be open to competition given its size.
Juma stated that at the time of procurement, the authority already had stocks of upto 160,000 kits, while more than 200,000 more were expected to be delivered.
He raised questions why there was an urgency to procure 450,000 more with an excuse of emergency, yet three months were allowed for delivery.
Juma observed that direct procurement was unnecessary and that the tender to KILIG should have been revoked.
His letter pointed to a reality that commitment letters were being issued by KEMSA to prospective suppliers against recommended procurement procedure.
The Procurement Director advised the CEO to stop further evaluation of any samples presented by prospective suppliers, as doing so was giving the false impression that KEMSA was still involved in emergency procurement of COVID-19 response equipment.
EACC has now asked for documentary evidence around the award of the tender to KILIG Limited including tender advertisement notices, bids submitted by bidders, tender opening minutes and list of all bidders.