The Senate has formed an ad hoc committee to investigate and establish the mystery surrounding tendering of the Sh38 billion managed equipment services (MES) project.
Despite gobbling up billions of shillings, the senators now want the probe to disclose whether county governments were involved in prioritising the medical equipment in accordance with their needs.
“The Senate resolves to establish an ad hoc committee to investigate and establish the facts surrounding the leasing of the medical equipment in the now 119 beneficiary hospitals countrywide,” Senate Minority Leader James Orengo said on Wednesday as he tabled the motion in the House.
The nine-member Senate team comprises: Mbito Michael (Trans Nzoia), Abdulahi Ali (Wajir), Kinyua Nderitu (Laikipia), Moses Wetangula (Bungoma), Fred Outa (Kisumu), and nominated Senators Farhiya Ali, Petronilla Were, Naomi Shiyonga and Mary Seneta.
The team has 90 days to complete the investigation and submit a report to the Senate.
While moving the motion for setting up the ad hoc committee, the Siaya senator said that the Council of Governors had opposed the project, saying that county governments were not consulted in the tendering process.
“There was lack of proper consultation between the Ministry of Health and county governments and that leasing the medical equipment was ultimately more expensive than direct purchase,” Orengo explained in his motion.
However, immediately after tabling, the senators failed to agree on the membership of the ad hoc committee.
In a heated debate, the lawmakers differed saying that the composition of the committee heavily tilted towards Senate Committee on Health that had previously failed to deliver on the same assignment.
“This “sanitised” ad hoc committee is mainly composed of health committee members who have failed this house before. They should not be allowed to sit in this committee,” nominated Senator Millicent Omanga voiced her objection.
“It also lacks regional balance as the matter under probe is extremely important to all of us,” she added.
This is the third time that the lawmakers are attempting to investigate how the MES project was procured.
Counties part with at least Sh200 million annually for the equipment.
“I urge my colleagues to defer this motion to allow consultation on the composition of the committee so that we come back with an agreeable team to investigate this matter,” Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala said.
Seconding the deferment motion proposed by Malala, Senator Johnson Sakaja faulted the House leadership of failing to consult members before tabling the motion.
“The leadership failed to convince us to why they need an ad hoc arrangement to do the work that is substantively and properly before the committee, yet puts entire membership in the same ad hoc committee,” Sakaja said.
The Nairobi senator urged the House to adjourn the motion to Thursday afternoon to allow for consultations among themselves.
Deputy Speaker Kithure Kindiki heeded call from senators and shelved the motion.
Nevertheless, the probe team is to, among other things, establish whether county governments were involved in the tendering of the equipment and availability of skilled staff to operate the machines.
The team will also cross-check the cost of each medical equipment and establish whether the government should have directly purchased the gadgets instead of leasing them.