Khaemba on spot over direct procurement of Sh1.4bn hospital contractor

By , K24 Digital
On Thu, 21 Nov, 2019 10:10 | 2 mins read
Trans Nzoia Hospital
Trans Nzoia County Referral and Teaching Hospital. PHOTO | COURTESY
Trans Nzoia County Referral and Teaching Hospital. PHOTO | COURTESY

Trans Nzoia Governor Patrick Khaemba is on the spot for direct procurement of the contractor who built the Sh1.4 billion county teaching and referral hospital.

The Senate Public Accounts and Investment Committee (CPAIC) wants Governor Khaemba to shed light on the procurement, saying it contravenes the Public Finance Management Act.

The committee, chaired Homa Bay Senator Moses Kajwang’, directed the governor to provide the procurement documents.

Appearing before the committee to answer to 2017/2018 audit reports, the governor justified the use of restricted procurement , saying the contractor had agreed to use 2015 rates, which were favourable.

However, committee members were not convinced and directed that he provides copies of the agreement with the contractor.

In his audit report for the year ending June 30, 2018, former Auditor-General Edward Ouko disclosed that the Trans Nzoia Teaching and Referral Hospital phase one was allocated Sh687 million while the second phase was given Sh732 million, bringing total project cost to Sh1.4 billion.

He said that the county government retained the contractor who implemented the project’s first phase for the second one.

“Audit reviews of the project during the year under review revealed that phase two of the project which included equipping of the hospital was awarded to the main contractor for contract sum of Sh732.33 million,” report reads in part.

Khaemba, who termed the hospital as his flagship project, defended the direct procurement, explaining that the county followed the route after Public Procurement Oversight Authority (PPOA) gave it the a clean bill of health.

 “Why did the county go for direct procurement for a project of such magnitude? Couldn’t the county have gotten better rates outside there?” Homa Bay Senator Moses Kajwang’ asked.

But governor responded: “Due to complexity and the nature of works involved, the county contracted a consultant to support it with the management works. This was in line with the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act which allows the use of consultants to supervise the works and issue interim certificate for complex works on behalf of the employer.”

He said his administration retained the contractor in phase one owing to his “favorable rates”.

“The contractors agreed to give us 2015 rates which were favorable to us. We sought PPOA advice and we got the way forward,” Khaemba said.

But auditors queried why the county hired a consultant to supervise the project instead of the county government and state department of roads and public works as provided for in law.

According to the audit report, the project was implemented in two phases: construction of physical structure (phase one) and phase two which entailed equipping the facility.

 “We would like you to submit within seven days copies of the agreement, detailed specifications of the hospital and the contract agreements,” Kajwang’ ordered.

Khaemba’s administration was also questioned why there were variations of contract sum in the construction of the Main Kitale bus park.

The total cumulative expenditure of the project cost Sh228.9 million out of contract sum of Sh355.2 million.

According to the audit report, the contract period was extended to April 30, 2017, however, project verification carried out in November 2018 revealed that the project had stalled and the contractor not on site.